After a quiet winter, work on the Walmart supercenter project off Hales Mills Road is expected to begin around May 1, according to the director of the Fulton County Planning Department.
James Mraz, who has worked with Walmart officials for the past seven years on the project, said engineers are waiting for the site to dry out before beginning excavation work there.
“The engineers have advised that construction will hopefully start by the first of May,” Mraz said.
Walmart corporate officials have not responded to emails for comment.
Lack of work at the site over the winter sparked rumors the project had stalled or ended. The rumors prompted Gloversville Mayor Dayton King to respond both on his Facebook page and at a City Council meeting Tuesday night.
In a prepared statement, King said the removal of earth should take approximately five months to complete once work begins and engineers will let the ground settle for eight weeks after that. He said construction of the 160,000-square-foot building will then begin sometime in the fourth quarter.
This construction schedule could affect Gloversville’s budget plans for 2013. The city had calculated seeing at least $700,000 in sales tax receipts next year. This amount is based on the supercenter opening in the fourth quarter of this year. It is unclear how a later opening would affect projections.
Fulton County, on the other hand, has not budgeted any sales tax receipts from Walmart and will view any receipts from this source as a windfall, county officials said.
“These delays have been primarily due to Mother Nature and are completely outside of our control. Having said that, any observation of a lack of physical activity should not be construed as a termination of the project,” King said. “We look forward to Walmart opening its doors at the new site in the short future.”
Mraz said project engineers need to seriously consider ground conditions in calculating construction timetables. “In today’s environment, with storm water plans and erosion control plans now required by DEC [state Department of Environmental Conservation], site work projects are pretty well controlled and [state officials] do not want to see erosion or sedimentation occur when sites are wet,” he said.
Mraz said he spoke with site engineers last week about the project, discussing issues related to the siting of an access road, and indications are that the project remains on track. “Rumors are just that,” he said.
Bast Hatfield Inc. is the construction firm handling the work, and it continues to maintain a presence at the site, Mraz said. “The city has done everything it can do. The project went through process and permits were issued,” he said. “It is now in the hands of Walmart and its engineers.”
Mraz said once work begins, Fulton County as a whole can expect to see immediate benefits from sales tax generated by the purchase of building materials and from construction workers spending wages locally.
Walmart broke ground on the site last August. At the time, officials said it would take 12 months to 18 months for the store to open after construction began.
Walmart has a store in Fulton County already, but it is not a supercenter. A supercenter sells groceries along with items found in a regular Walmart. The company will close the first store once the supercenter opens.
The supercenter site once was part of the town of Johnstown. Gloversville annexed the property after the city of Johnstown refused to allow sewer and water hookups to the site. Both cities need to agree to hookups outside of their corporate limits.
Following this refusal, Gloversville and the town worked out an agreement whereby the city could annex the land in return for sharing sales and property tax revenue with the town. City and town officials hope the agreement will serve as a template for other economic development projects in the area.