Federal officials will begin taking down an already crumbling building at the old Scotia Navy Depot this week — a first step toward future redevelopment of the property.
In July, a building partially collapsed at the Route 5 facility. Town officials secured the building by placing police tape around it and locking the gate with a chain. They also urged the General Services Administration, the real estate arm of the federal government, to remove the structure.
The contractor did some preparation work at the site on Friday, according to Ray Gillen, commissioner of economic development and planning for Schenectady County.
Gillen was not sure how long the process would take. This is the first step in getting the 65-acre site turned over to local control.
The property, which was vacated by military officials shortly after the Vietnam War, is bordered on two sides by the Glenville Business and Technology Park. County officials hope more businesses would be attracted to locate at the site, which is near Exit 26 of the Thruway and has water and sewer lines.
“We would hopefully get into serious negotiations next year about transfer of the parcel,” Gillen said.
The next step, however, is getting the property cleaned up, according to Gillen. There is a groundwater plume containing trichloroethylene, a degreaser used during the repair and assembly of trucks and other vehicles. The chemical has been linked to cancer and other health problems.
In October, GSA signed an agreement with the state Department of Environmental Conservation to clean up the site of a cost of $3 million to $4 million. A barrier needs to be installed to prevent the plume from reaching the Great Flats Aquifer, which is where Schenectady County gets its drinking water.
Schenectady County Legislator Martin Finn, chairman of the legislature’s Committee on Economic Development, said U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko, D-Amsterdam, is lobbying federal officials to get these buildings demolished.
“This property is very important to our economic development efforts in the Glenville Business and Technology Park. We look forward to work beginning next week that will bring us closer to adding this property back to the tax rolls to benefit all of our residents,” he said in a press release.
Glenville Supervisor Chris Koetzle said the demolition is good news. Town officials are interested in using a portion of the property for a new highway garage, possibly in conjunction with the village of Scotia and Schenectady County.
Koetzle said the town’s existing 6,500-square-foot facility on Vley Road is very old and becoming expensive to operate. Koetzle believed it was built sometime in the 1930s.
It’s not exactly a tight energy-efficient building,” he said.
Public Works Commissioner Tom Coppola said the existing facility is too small and a 20,000-square-foot facility would be ideal. “We don’t have the ability right now to get all of our equipment under one roof and that’s what we’re looking for,” he said.