JOHNSTOWN - Progress was made last month when members of the joint Development Process Team got together along with Gloversville Mayor Dayton King to discuss economic development in the area, town and city officials said.
Members from both sides said the two municipalities agreed that they have work to do to get another revenue-sharing agreement in place for properties that may be in the town that do not have access to sewer and water.
"We did agree however that the agreement that [former town Supervisor Roy] Palmateer and I signed in December of 2010 would be honored," King said. "This means that the land along Hales Mills Road has access to sewer and water and any business-as long as town zoning allows - will be able to purchase land if the land owner is selling it for commercial use."
However, that agreement didn't come without concerns from city and town officials of whether it would be honored.
First Ward Councilwoman Robin Wentworth said she worked hard to get the two sides back together again after disagreements led to the two not communicating for a period of time.
She said the mayor signed the agreement in 2010 and since that time had changed his mind and publicly stated that he refuses to honor it which led to concerns by the town.
"There was some doubt whether or not the city was actually going to go through with it," town Supervisor Nancy MacVean said. "But they assured us they would still provide the water and sewer service and hold up their end of the deal."
Wentworth said that is correct.
"[King] was told by three council members [at the meeting] that this is a signed agreement and the city will be honoring it," Wentworth said.
Under a Cooperative Development Agreement in December 2010 regarding "covered property" near the new Walmart supercenter in Gloversville, the development team is responsible for reviewing proposed development and determining services the city would provide to the site.
The development team also was set up to work with the owner and any potential developer of the property around Walmart to identify the potential sales tax, property-tax revenues and other municipal revenue to be generated from development of the property and the cost of providing services, according to the agreement.
King said although this agreement does not bring a financial benefit to the city, he does see the need to work together and to have more businesses in the area to spur even more growth.
King said development of the 300 acres along Hales Mills Road may provide jobs for people who now are unemployed or underemployed.
"This may also bring people from out of the area here to shop, eat, and check out the rest of our region," King said. "We believe that having more people working and attracting more people to our area will also have a positive impact on our downtowns as people may want to rent store fronts and come into the downtown while they are here."
"We are not going to get rich off it, and no one ever intended it to be that," Wentworth said. "It is a cooperative agreement between two municipalities that wasn't there previously and it is something that can benefit certainly the town, the city to some degree and the county as a whole, and that was always the intent of the cooperative intermunicipal agreement."
King said the previous agreement was "not done in a vacuum and was very complex" and without this agreement, it's very likely the Walmart Super Center project would not have been completed.
King said he suggested that he and Supervisor MacVean co-sign a letter to the roughly 20 town residents who own property that the 2010 agreement covers to let them know that they do have access to Gloversville water and sewer services.
"Property owners should be made aware that they do have water and sewer in that area and it is their private property; it is not for Dayton or Nancy MacVean or anybody else to market," Wentworth said. "If they choose to market their property, they can."
MacVean said King drafted the letter and it has since been sent to the property owners letting them know the services available to them.
"I believe this is symbolic and meaningful," King said. "The town does not own any of the land, it is privately owned, but we believe property owners may not understand they can develop it now. They have what they need to move forward. Having a letter from the mayor of our city and the supervisor of the town is something they can show possible developers, and I believe it is what has been missing."
King said officials from both municipalities all shook hands at the beginning and end of the meeting and they are starting to see real progress.
"I expect many of these property owners will reach out to commercial Realtors to begin marketing their properties knowing they have water and sewer to offer along with their land," King said.
However, MacVean said she hasn't been contacted by any of the private land owners looking to market and sell their land.
"I don't know if they want to sell their property or not, but it will probably be more valuable when the Walmart opens because businesses spring up around the Walmart," MacVean said.
At the next meeting, set for Aug. 14 at 6 p.m. at City Hall, King said, they will be discussing agreements that the cities of Hornell, Rome and Amsterdam have used to work together with their neighboring municipalities. They also could seek special legislation if needed to come to another agreement.
"We are trying to mend fences that have been broken," Wentworth said about future meetings.
"We are trying to keep the lines of communication open," MacVean said.
The development team is made up of eight members- three members plus one alternate from each municipality. From the Gloversville council, they are Robin Wentworth, Ellen Anadio, Jim Robinson and alternate Jay Zarrelli, and from the town they are MacVean and Town Board members Beth Schloicka, Walter Lane and alternate Tamara Healy.
Levi Pascher can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.