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Edison Tech, city await ruling on downtown buildings

Edison Tech, city await ruling on downtown buildings

Center leaders hope to continue mission
Edison Tech, city await ruling on downtown buildings
Edison Tech Center.
Photographer: PETER R. BARBER

SCHENECTADY -- The city's impressive scientific legacy, which includes names like Edison, Westinghouse and Steinmetz, is in danger of losing its primary proponent.

The Edison Tech Center, formed in 2001 to chronicle the area’s many technological achievements and to “help everyone discover the joy and lifelong activity of engineering,” may have to vacate its current location at 132-136 Broadway in downtown Schenectady. Both the City of Schenectady and the Edison Tech Center are awaiting a ruling by the Supreme Court Appellate Division Third Department regarding Judge Richard Sise’s April 2016 decision in the City’s favor that returned ownership of the location to the City.

City Corporation Counsel Carl Falatico and Edison Tech Center attorney Kathryn McCary argued before the state court on Jan. 17, and a ruling could come as early as this month. Falatico is confident the five-judge panel will back up Judge Sise’s decision.

“We feel like the earlier ruling in favor of the City was correct, and that Edison had breached the agreement, and that based on that, the property should return to the City,” said Falatico. “Typically, the Appellate Division could take six weeks to render its decision, and we’re going on four weeks now, so I’m expecting something soon.”

Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy said back in April of 2016 that the owners of the Edison Tech Center had not lived up to their promise. The City sold the group the two buildings for $1 apiece back in 2006, with the stipulation that they would make improvements and get the building up to code while also not filing for a tax exemption.

McCarthy would not comment on the case Thursday, except to say he feels the city is in the right and that the group “failed to live up to the original agreement.”

George Goodman, a retired General Electric employee and a past president and current board member of the Edison Tech Center, said the group has made improvements to the building and is trying to serve an important need in the community.

“Very few institutions emphasize the importance of engineering, and that’s what differentiates the Edison Tech Center from other institutions,” Goodman said. “We feel like we have invested quite a bit of money into the place, and we feel good about the oral arguments we heard on Jan. 17. We’re hopeful that they will reverse the judge’s earlier decision.”

McCary also would not comment on the case, except to say she had no idea how soon the appellate court will release its ruling.

The Edison Tech Center does have a website, and while its museum space had been open on Fridays and Saturdays, it is closed for the time being. The facility is now used by the Electric City Bike Rescue at least once a week.

“Our website is wonderful, and we know there is room for improvement with what we do in our display case,” Goodman said. “We hope the judges will rule in our favor, and then we can start working at improving things at the Edison Tech Center.”

Reach Gazette reporter Bill Buell at 395-3190 or [email protected].

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