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Rotterdam Junction property's purchase will help protect aquifer, wells

Rotterdam Junction property's purchase will help protect aquifer, wells

Property near town drinking water wells will be cleaned up
Rotterdam Junction property's purchase will help protect aquifer, wells
The former Bobby's Auto Service, on Main Street in Rotterdam Junction, is seen on Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2019.
Photographer: Peter Barber/Daily Gazette photographer

ROTTERDAM -- The town and Schenectady County have purchased a former auto shop in Rotterdam Junction as part of an effort to protect the hamlet's water supply.

The deal, which has been in the works for five years and closed on Monday, will result in the town taking ownership of the former Bobby's Auto Service, at 1220 Main St., for $90,000. The town will now oversee a cleanup of contamination on the half-acre property, which is located between a restaurant and the Saint Margaret of Cortona Catholic church.

The town-owned Rotterdam Junction wells are just north of the garage, and the property lies above the Great Flats Aquifer, which provides the bulk of drinking water for 150,000 Schenectady County residents. Its acquisition and cleanup have been goals of the Intermunicipal Water Protection Board, which oversees aquifer protection.

"The wells are really right in the backyard," said Ray Gillen, chairman of the Schenectady County Metroplex Development Authority.

Under the agreement, the property's previous owners, the Young family, received $90,000, with $75,000 coming from the town and $15,000 from Metroplex. The Town Board approved the purchase in September. 

The town will be reimbursed $48,750 through a state Regional Economic Development Council water quality protection grant.

"We really appreciate the willingness of the Young family to work cooperatively with the town and county to put this site into public ownership, so we can continue to protect the aquifer," said Rotterdam Town Supervisor Steven Tommasone. "Rotterdam is very proud of its high-quality water, and the purchase helps up to make sure that our water supply stays clean and safe for future generations to enjoy."

The former Bobby's Auto Service has been vacant for several years. It is located in a priority aquifer protection zone and had operated there since before the adoption of current well-protection rules.

With the property now under town control, the town and Metroplex will work together to come up with a plan to demolish the service station and perform any needed cleanup. The demolition and cleanup costs have been estimated at $100,000 and will include removing underground fuel tanks, removing hydraulic lifts inside the garage, decommissioning the septic system and removing any contaminated soil.

Once the site is cleared, it is expected to become public green space. 

County officials said the Great Flats Aquifer provides about 25 million gallons of water per day for the city of Schenectady, the towns of Rotterdam, Niskayuna and Glenville, and the village of Scotia.

"This is a great way to start the year, as nothing is more important to our future than safeguarding our fantastic water supply," said Anthony Jasenski, D-Rotterdam, chairman of the County Legislature.

Gillen said a quality water supply is an economic development tool, which puts its protection within Metroplex's mission.

"We're winning deals now because of the water," he said, citing the PiSA Biopharm project in Rotterdam and a cheesemaker and a medical marijuana operation coming to the Glenville Business and Technology Park.

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

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