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More steps taken in corridor revitalization

CANAJOHARIE — In efforts to continue the progress toward the revitalization of the former Beech-Nut site, Montgomery County installed a new billboard atop the building.

According to a news release, the new billboard caps off a year of progress toward the revitalization of the major economic development project. The county’s continued efforts to turn the former Beech-Nut food processing plant off of Thruway Exit 29, into an economic engine for the region will take even greater shape in 2020.

“Creating a new campus that grows good-paying jobs and economic opportunity while complementing the village and surrounding area has been a complex but exciting process,” said Montgomery County Business Development Center CEO Ken Rose. “Major progress has been made this year thanks to the efforts by our team at the BDC and the strong leadership of the County Executive Matt Ossenfort.”

In the past few years, the site has been undergoing demolition and remediation efforts funded by a combined $6.8 million in grants received by the county and village.

In 2016, the county received a $500,000 Restore New York grant; in February 2017, it received a $300,000 Brownfield Redevelopment grant from National Grid; and in February 2018, it received a $6 million Restore New York grant.

“While we are overseeing the demolition and remediation efforts, we are also working daily to find prospective developers who can revitalize this site and restore a major economic driver for the village and the county,” Rose said.

Some redevelopment accomplishments made by the county on the Exit 29 site in 2019 include: In January, the Montgomery County contracted with Gorick, a Binghamton-based demolition contractor, to remove a majority of the remaining structures on the east side of the property; in May, the county launched the Exit29Project.com website to enhance redevelopment efforts and attract potential suitors for the property.

Over the summer, demolition on the eastern side of the site was completed, and bidding for hazardous materials and asbestos abatement for the western side was done.

In October, the Montgomery County Legislature selected Apollo Dismantling Services LLC to move forward with another round of demolition and asbestos abatement work at the former food processing facility, and this month National Grid issued payment of a grant for debris removal work.

The county’s redevelopment goals for 2020 include removal of hazardous and non-hazardous materials, asbestos abatement and interior demolition of the western side structures; outreach and marketing of the eastern side with the end goal of a private sector enterprise with quality jobs for the region; working with the village of Canajoharie to update the LWRP plan for the village with the help of an $85,000 grant through the department of state.

“We’ve worked hard to attract millions [of dollars] in grant money and interest from investors,” Rose said. “All of that work will allow the long-term vision for this site to start taking shape in 2020. It’s going to be an exciting year.”

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