Project would involve two counties and
a new railroad spur
By NICOLE ANTONUCCI
Officials from Montgomery and Fulton counties are gathering information on a proposed regional business park, hoping to ensure the site is shovel-ready if approved.
Requests for proposals were issued July 25 for an engineering evaluation of the proposed 285-acre site in the town of Mohawk, an evaluation of a proposed rail spur, and topographic surveys of the land.
"We are seeking proposals from surveyors and engineers to conduct some of the baseline studies and evaluations that get done when you are trying to prepare a tract of land to market it as a shovel-ready site," Fulton County Planning Director James E. Mraz said. "So if a company is interested in coming to this site, we would be able to give them this information, so they can assess it and determine if the site would work for them in the development of a new project."
Montgomery County Executive Matthew Ossenfort said the goal is to understand what needs to be done and to get an idea of how much it would cost.
"The decision was made to try to get more information so we can make a better decision on how best to move forward," he said. "I am happy that we are moving the process along."
Mohawk Town Supervisor Edward Bishop said he is aware of the RFPs that went out and is anxious to see what the cost estimate will be for the rail connector from the main rail line to give a developer direct access to rail service.
"I think it is pipe dream but I could be wrong," he said. "But with what the railroad is doing, with closing the crossing there and them wanting a high-speed rail to come in, I don't see them putting in the siding for a spur up to the industrial park."
The spur would include a 3.5-mile section of the former railroad right-of-way and would re-establish rail service directly to the site. According to the proposal, in 2007, a company proposed building a large manufacturing facility on the site but the lack of rail service was an impediment.
At a Mohawk town meeting in March, Ossenfort told the public that the property is approximately 285 acres and currently generates $245 in property tax revenue for the town of Mohawk and a total of $5,642 for Montgomery County, the town and the Fonda-Fultonville Central School District combined.
Due to its size, the property has the potential to accommodate a large facility, which could create a revenue stream in excess of the $1.5 million a year in tax revenue generated by the Johnstown Industrial Park, he said.
For the park to be successful, Mohawk and the city of Johnstown need to work together to create a shared revenue deal. However, previous discussions with the city resulted in no agreement.
Bishop is looking forward to renewing those discussions but due to scheduling conflicts, a meeting has yet to convene.
In the meantime, Bishop said the planning board has begun taking steps to update the town's comprehensive plan.
"We think that it is an intricate part of the process," Bishop said. "I believe they hired an engineering firm to give us a cost estimate on what it might cost to update that plan. It is in flux at this point."
Proposals for each of the RFPs are due by Aug. 20. If Montgomery and Fulton counties move forward, work on the studies would begin in September with a scheduled completion date for December.