PERTH - Neighbors of the proposed Tryon redevelopment have concerns about the project, saying they are fearful of stormwater runoff and traffic problems, literally in their backyards.
Residents also want officials to tell them whether their aquifers and wells will be protected.
Fulton County government and the Fulton County Industrial Development Agency are trying to redevelop the 515-acre Tryon site, a former state-run youth detention center. Economic development plans have been in the works since the detention facility closed around 2010.
Tom Burrows is seen this week pointing out where water flows on his property in Perth, near the former Tryon youth-detention center. (The Leader-Herald/Bill Trojan)
Local officials want to turn the site on County Highway 107 into a new business park to be called the Tryon Technology Park and Incubator Center. The IDA is waiting for the state to transfer the property's title to it.
Thomas and Judy Burrows of 422 Sacandaga Road wonder how the Tryon project could affect their property. Their main worry is the way surface water runoff will flow. Mr. Burrows said he's talked to an engineer from C.T. Male Associates of Latham about the Tryon project, and he is worried that swales - shallow channels designed to manage surface water - may affect his property directly.
"I'm concerned about runoff," Burrows said. "I figure there's 300 acres that runs into two separate swale lines, and both run into my backyard. I'm mainly concerned about the drainage of the property."
Burrows said he's talked to county Planning Director James Mraz, who also serves as executive director of the IDA, and asked many questions.
"He just said nothing is going to change," Burrows said.
The Tryon neighbor said he can't get a straight answer from the county or IDA about how Tryon redevelopment's will affect his property.
"They haven't been too cooperative about giving information out," Burrows said.
The project hasn't moved forward yet, as the IDA works to secure the title. The state agreed in February 2012 to turn the property over to local officials. But what is planned is a project that could make the former juvenile detention facility property an attractive place for several future business.
"We've met with Mr. Burrows," Mraz said last week. "I did speak with him once."
He said Burrows expressed his concerns to the county Planning Department about his property, on the south side of County Highway 107.
"That entire area of Tryon does drain toward his property," Mraz said. "As we design the Tryon campus, stormwater management is something that needs to be engineered."
Mraz said proper runoff management is required of all development projects.
Susan Darling lives with her husband, David, on the Perth-Johnstown Road in a trailer almost directly across from the entrance to Tryon.
"When we moved here in the '70s, we were told our water source is from an underground lake," she said. "I would be concerned it would be disturbed."
She also said the traffic on County Highways 107 and 158 and Sacandaga Road near Tryon has always been "terrible," and she wonders what will happen with the new development.
"They need to have an entrance other than the main entrance," Darling said.
She said there are dips and road problems and the traffic when the detention center was open was unbearable. She also has other concerns.
"I'm worried about eminent domain," Darling said. "I think it would change the noise level. I think it would change the wildlife. I love it here. It's generally quiet."
Another Tryon neighbor - Kenneth England of 462 Sacandaga Road, who operates Mohawk Valley Nursery at that address - said runoff also is a concern for him.
He said he won't know how well-founded his concerns are until local officials make engineering data from the Tryon redevelopment fully available to the public.
"I have general concerns, being a neighbor," England said. "No government is very good at transparency."
England said detailed engineering was done before Stuyvesant Plaza in Albany was built, but neighbors there often complain about a poor runoff system and recurring flooding there.
"They have a disaster every time they get two inches of rainfall," he said.
Mraz has detailed in several public presentations how the county secured a $2 million state Empire Development Corp. grant to be used to pay for the road and water and sewer upgrades. The project also includes construction of an internal access road. The plan is for nine large sites totaling 240 acres to offer 2.6 million square feet to attract large companies, but other smaller Tryon lots also would be available for development.
Seventeen acres have been designated as wetlands, including a 15.4-acre spot near the center of the property. Mraz said that spot will sit in the center of the loop, and the other wetland, 1.7 acres east of the access road, won't pose a problem.
The Burrows - who is retired and moved to this area from Westport, Conn. - said he's amazed there haven't been any public hearings since the redevelopment of Tryon was proposed.
He said many members of the public, including some of his neighbors, may want to air some of their concerns publicly. He said those concerns involve possible increases in traffic, especially at the intersection of Sacandaga Road and County Highway 107.
"The traffic regularly speeds down the road," he said. "There have been accidents. My neighbor got T-boned."
England also is concerned about what he called the "dangerous intersection" of Sacandaga Road and County Highway 107. He said "any more additional traffic" from expanded development may present worse problems.
Burrows, an engineer, said he's not necessarily against the Tryon project. But he said he and his neighbors need to know more about what's being proposed.
Mraz said he is not aware of any concerns about traffic, although there is "potential" for more traffic when the proposed technology park and incubator finally comes to fruition. But Mraz said the existing roads may be able to handle traffic increases.
Burrows said Perth officials haven't been cooperative with information about the project. Most of the site is in that town, but some of the property is in the town of Johnstown.
"I think the public should know what they could have," Burrows said.
Perth Supervisor Greg Fagan said some town residents are concerned about traffic, but most are excited about the project.
"I think the biggest feedback I've gotten is how this is a big thing not only for the town of Perth, but for the county," he said.
One of the other Tryon neighbors is Jackie Hollenbeck, who lives on County Highway 107 not far from Tryon. She said she's taking a wait-and-see attitude.
"I'm sure there's going to be some concern about traffic," Hollenbeck said. "But it depends on what goes in there. There could be more information put out. But I don't even know if they know what's going in there. It's all in the planning stages."
Michael Anich can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.