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What you need to know for 08/21/2017

Schoharie County supervisors want progress reports on brewery plan


Schoharie County supervisors want progress reports on brewery plan

Following last year’s failure to bring jobs to a long-vacant industrial building, Schoharie County s
Schoharie County supervisors want progress reports on brewery plan
PETER R. BARBER/GAZETTE PHOTOGRAPHER Schoharie County supervisors have agreed to sell the county-owned Guilford Mills building, located on Aker Drive in Cobleskill, to an Otsego County-based brewery.
Photographer: Peter R. Barber

Following last year’s failure to bring jobs to a long-vacant industrial building, Schoharie County supervisors are asking for monthly progress updates on the newest proposal to transform the Guilford Mills factory building into a beer brewery.

The county’s Board of Supervisors heard an update recently on plans for Otsego County-based Butternuts Beer & Ale to take over the former textile factory before calling for periodic updates to ensure work is progressing.

“The board would like to see a timetable when this thing is going to be concluded,” County Attorney Mike West said Monday.

State and local officials are all but throwing money at the private business to bring some jobs to Schoharie County, which lost about 100 last year when the state shut down the Summit Shock Facility.

State economic development officials have promised $750,000 in reimbursements toward the effort while the county is offering to cut $15,000 off the $2.5 million purchase price for each job over 10 created up to a maximum of 110 jobs, reflecting a $1.5 million discount if it’s achieved.

A payment in lieu of taxes agreement is also on the table, specifying a $62,000 payment over the first five years with a gradual increase up to $152,374 in the 10th year.

The effort to get jobs in the 460,000-square-foot facility has been ongoing since the county took ownership in 2009.

“There is a lot of concern because we continue to pay school taxes [on the parcel],” Schoharie Supervisor Gene Milone said Monday.

Aside from studies, there’s been no work or upgrades to the building off Grand Street in the village of Cobleskill.

“It’s just standing there, so yes, there is a lot of concern. If this is not going to take place than we want to market it,” Milone said.

One firm offered to begin raising fish for restaurants in 2010 but the proposal languished for nearly a year before the county rejected a purchase extension.

Efforts to reach representatives from Butternuts Beer & Ale were unsuccessful Monday.

Cobleskill Supervisor Thomas Murray said he doesn’t believe a timeline is a practical request because of the uncertainty involved in financing needed to put the building back into working order.

Murray said it’s his understanding that the microbrewing business is garnering a lot of attention and Butternuts Beer & Ale officials are reworking plans to create greater opportunities for employment.

He said the company is now considering making use of 70,000 square feet instead of the initial 50,000 considered because of interest among craft brewers looking to mass-produce their microbrews.

Butternuts Beer & Ale owners, Murray said, are hoping to accommodate a variety of local brewers who want to mass-produce their specialty beers and have them bottled.

Discussions have also centered on ways for Schoharie County’s agriculture industry to benefit from the work.

Murray said farmers in the county have been reaching out to the beer brewer in hopes of providing one important staple — hops — for the production process.

As it stands now, the massive Guilford Mills facility remains in need of repairs. The roof continues to leak, but Murray said a study determined mold that’s forming there isn’t toxic.

Pinning down a date to start brewing, however, is a difficult task, he said.

“There’s a lot to do here,” Murray said.

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