A controversy involving yogurt maker Fage USA's effort to buy land for an expansion in Johnstown has raised awareness about a problem that could slow local economic growth - lack of cooperation.
The company wants to buy 2 acres from the Gloversville-Johnstown Wastewater Treatment Facility, and the purchase requires the approval from the Gloversville and Johnstown city councils because both cities own the property.
Controversy erupted when Gloversville Mayor Dayton King said he wanted to attach conditions to the sale, including a deal in which Gloversville would receive 75 percent of future property taxes on the property and Johnstown would receive 25 percent.
Earlier this week, King and the Gloversville council said they are prepared to agree to the land sale, but they also want to change a 1964 sewer agreement between the two cities to prevent one city from being able to block the other city's development for reasons other than sewer capacity. This issue previously came up when Johnstown failed to allow sewer and water connections for the Walmart Supercenter project in Gloversville. Gloversville and the town of Johnstown agreed to the annexation of town land into Gloversville to get around the city of Johnstown's authority over sewer and water connections at the site.
We agree the law needs revision, but more importantly, the two cities must raise their level of cooperation.
The CEO Roundtable, a group of area business leaders, this week issued a news release that supported changing the 1964 law and criticized the squabbling between the two cities.
"The political bickering and the lack of communication and cooperation between Mayor King and [Johnstown Mayor Sarah] Slingerland and the two common councils is unacceptable and continues to hold back the region," the roundtable stated in its news release.
The lack of cooperation became more evident Wednesday after officials from both cities met about the Fage issue and then put out news releases that show significant differences.
The cities should move quickly to reach agreement on the land sale. Then, they must focus on working together. Business and industrial growth must not be held hostage.
Residents in Gloversville and Johnstown should call their mayors to express their concerns about the dispute over the Fage land sale. Mayors tend to pay attention to what the public has to say.