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Metroplex buying Glenville land for economic development

Metroplex buying Glenville land for economic development

Move follows $16 million site cleanup
Metroplex buying Glenville land for economic development
Crews tear down the former U.S. Navy heavy equipment depot in October 2015.
Photographer: Daily Gazette file photo

GLENVILLE — The Schenectady Metroplex Development Authority will be acquiring an additional 43 acres at the Glenville Business and Technology Park on Route 5, with plans to market what is now mostly vacant land for economic development.

The move, for which Metroplex will be borrowing $1.35 million, comes as the state Department of Environmental Conservation has declared that a federally funded contamination cleanup on the land is considered complete, with no further cleanup of underground chemical contamination needed.

The land, which is surrounded by already redeveloped portions of the Glenville Business and Technology Park, has remained owned by the federal government until now because of the contamination, but in 2015-16 it underwent a $16 million contamination cleanup project.

The sprawling 337-acre property just west of Scotia was once a U.S. Navy heavy equipment depot where as many as 2,300 people worked, which has now been converted into a private-public industrial-business park.

"It's really one of the last sections of the old Navy depot that hasn't been developed. The site cleanup is complete," Metroplex Chairman Ray Gillen said. "The plan is to remarket the property for economic development."

The town of Glenville has been working on getting the contamination cleaned up for at least 30 years, said Town Supervisor Chris Koetzle, and now the town is looking forward to seeing that property returned to productive use. "We asked Metroplex to buy it years ago so we'd have control of it," Koetzle said.

Koetzle also said the importance of the cleanup shouldn't be sold short, since the pollution plume potentially threatened the Mohawk River.

"Beyond the economic development piece of it, the cleanup cannot be overlooked," he said. "That was a monumental task. It's good for the park, it's good for the river — just getting that site cleaned up is a tremendous benefit to the community."

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The town also recently hired a consulting firm led by Michael Relyea, former president of the Luther Forest Technology Campus Economic Development Corp. in Saratoga County, to help create a development plan for and market the Business and Technology Park. The plan will include creating a plan to improve the park's roads, sewer and water access, and signage. A $47,500 grant the town received in the 2016 Regional Economic Development Awards is paying for the consultant. The town is also contributing $2,500.

"A lot of things are coming together," Koetzle said Wednesday.  "I believe this is absolutely prime property to come into, and it has prime access to highway infrastructure and rail."

Most of the Business and Technology Park is owned by the Galesi Group of Rotterdam, but it isn't clear whether Galesi is a potential purchaser of the 43 acres Metroplex will be buying from the government.

"We really can't comment on any pending deals, but our plan is to require it from [the General Services Administration] and do economic development on it," Gillen said. "It's clean, it's a 43-acre site, and our goal is to redevelop it and get it back on the tax rolls."

A notice of completion issued Wednesday by the DEC said that long-term monitoring will still be required, but an underground reactive barrier is expected to stop the spread of trichloroethene (TCE), causing it to break down through chemical reactions.

The contamination occurred at some point during the Navy's operation of the site, which began in 1942 and continued until sometime after the Vietnam War. The Navy used the property for heavy equipment storage and maintenance. In 2014, U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer and U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko obtained nearly $16 million in federal funding for the TCE cleanup project.

"This couldn't have happened without them," Gillen said.

Elsewhere in the park, large industrial warehouse buildings have been converted to industrial uses, and there has also been new construction. The park's tenants include Adirondack Beverages, Dimension Fabricators, Dominion Freight and telecommunications services provider CTDI.

The Schenectady County Legislature, which must approve any borrowing done by Metroplex, on Tuesday unanimously approved $2 million in borrowing to cover the land acquisition costs. The total borrowing also includes improvements to several parking lots Metroplex owns and maintains in downtown Schenectady.

Reach Gazette reporter Stephen Williams at 518-395-3086, [email protected] or @gazettesteve on Twitter.

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