PRESS RELEASE – 11/13/17


Senator secures new state infrastructure funding for Vail Mills Development Area to bring residential, retail & commercial development to “gateway to Great Sacandaga Lake & Adirondacks”.

Senator Jim Tedisco (R,C,I,REF-Glenville) today announced new infrastructure funding he has secured for the Vail Mills Development Area to bring residential, retail and commercial development to Fulton County.

Located around the intersection of NYS Routes 29 and 30 in the Town of Mayfield at the gateway to the Great Sacandaga Lake and Adirondack State Park, the Vail Mills Development Area will offer 50,000 square feet of retail space, 132,000 square feet of commercial office space, single family homes and apartments as well as a potential 72-room hotel along with greenspace and parkland.

Tedisco has secured a state infrastructure grant to support the proposed Vail Mills Development Area by bringing in municipal sewer service which is not currently available on site. Specifically, the grant will construct 5,000 LF of sewer trunk main from the Village of Broadalbin’s existing wastewater treatment plant to connect to the NYS Route 29/30 intersection along with the construction of a wastewater pump station. The construction of this underground infrastructure is critical to bringing commercial development and investment into this area.

"As they said in 'Field of Dreams', 'if you build it, they will come!' That’s the simple but powerful reason why this new $300,000 state grant that I helped secure is so important to the future economic development of Fulton County. To move forward on the Vail Mills Development Area and bring more jobs, tourism and economic development to Fulton County, we need to invest in the critical underground infrastructure to build the county’s future success upon," said Senator Jim Tedisco.

"When we launched our Jump Start Fulton County strategy a couple of years ago, it included the SMART Waters initiative to develop regional water and wastewater treatment capabilities. Build-out of the Vail Mills Sewer District is at the center of our economic growth goals and this grant from Senator Tedisco is a big boost to get the project underway," said Fulton County Board of Supervisors Chairman G. Michael Kinowski.


TIMES UNION – 11/3/17


JOHNSTOWN — To the naked eye, Tryon Technology Park looks like a ghost town.

What used to be an infamous juvenile detention center is now a sea of green grass pocked with crumbling buildings, a deserted pool, a rusted baseball cage and a vacant auditorium that once held about 250 people.

But when Jim Mraz gazes across the 515-acre space, he sees an expanse ripe with potential for a company's headquarters and a mix of new businesses that would not only revitalize the run-down site but also bring jobs back to rural Fulton County.

"There are so many possibilities," Mraz, executive director of the county's Industrial Development Agency, said.

Tryon was once the "jewel" of the state's youth centers and housed a young Mike Tyson before his boxing career began but later developed a reputation for brutality and legal issues. In 2009, the federal Department of Justice found that the civil rights of youths at Tryon and other state juvenile centers were being violated because of a lack of adequate mental health treatment and undue use of force by guards.

The detention center was shuttered in 2011, one of 16 facilities across the state that closed around the same time, and was another hit to the county's economy. Once considered the epicenter of the upstate leather and glove industry, Fulton County was already suffering from the loss of manufacturing jobs that went overseas. At its peak, Tryon employed roughly 325 people, a significant number in a county of 53,000.

"It was a major employer for this region," Mraz said. "When it closed it was really a negative blow to the local economy."

Sites like Tryon can be a tough sell. A remote location, a huge amount of acreage and fortress-like buildings that require tearing down are the biggest challenges, said Holly Leicht, vice president of real estate development and planning at Empire State Developmen

"These sites don't exactly lend themselves to revitalization and redevelopment," she said.

The state is taking a "retail approach" to assessing the prisons and facilities because there's not a one-size-fits-all solution, Leicht said. Knocking down existing buildings can make sites more marketable.

"Demolition is a daunting process," she said. "If a county has the resources, creating shovel-ready sites can help."

Plans to sell and redevelop other shuttered prisons and detention facilities throughout the state have floundered.

This year Empire State Development began looking for buyers for the closed Mount McGregor prison complex in Saratoga County, but last month they rejected all three proposals they received. Plans to build an automotive dismantling facility and junkyard at the former Summit Shock correctional facility in Schoharie County were abandoned after locals opposed the project.

A company bought Camp Georgetown in Madison County in 2013 for $241,000, hoping to turn the former prison into a summer camp for high school students interested in science and technology, but nothing has panned out and the owner is considering opening a yoga and retreat center. An initiative to transform Camp Gabriels into a summer camp for Orthodox Jews hit a snag in 2015 because the former prison is located within the Adirondack Forest Preserve and the site's buyers faced opposition from environmental groups.

Similar to Tryon, the former Mid-Orange Correctional Facility in Orange County is now the Warwick Valley Office and Technology Corporate Park. Officials are working to market the 730-acre site but have only attracted one tenant, an athletic training facility, to date.

"Every other community in New York is trying to do the same thing right now," Mraz said. "There's a lot of competition."

Like other areas, Fulton County saw an opportunity to draw new businesses to their backyard. Three similar industrial and business parks in Fulton County had brought more than 2,000 new jobs, so Fulton County asked the state to transfer ownership of Tryon to the county IDA and planned to develop a similar structure.

Significant investment was required. The county built a new road to connect buildings formerly used for boys' and girls' dorms on opposite sides of the campus, reconfigured the sewer system and added a water booster station and winter storage tank.

At the suggestion of a group of site selectors the county hosted in September, demolition teams recently began bulldozing trees and buildings to make the site more visually appealing. County crews are also available to help with demolition if a tenant needs it. The county also started sending out newsletters to companies and developers within a two-hour drive.

The renovations cost more than $5 million, about half of which was financed through grants, including a $2 million ESD grant. So far the park has drawn a single tenant: Vireo Health, a medical marijuana company that moved into the park in 2015.

But Mraz is willing to wait.

"If you don't have the product ready, you're not even in the game," he said. "We're in the game. We may not win, but we're in the game."



JOHNSTOWN — The Fulton County Building and Grounds Committee pushed forward a concept Monday that would place a solar array at the Tryon Technology Park.

Fulton County Planning Director Jim Mraz said he brought the concept to the Committee just to see if they were interested. He was not requesting any type of commitment, but an OK to move to the next step and start collecting information. The project will be referred to the Finance Committee for review.

The Fulton County Industrial Development Agency (IDA) hired C.T. Male Associates to conduct an engineering analysis of the feasibility of developing a solar array at the site and the analysis determined it was feasible.

Mraz said the IDA has received a proposal from Ameresco, a solar development company based in Framingham, Mass., to develop a solar array at Tryon. The company is proposing to use a municipal solar program and the proposed project is 2 megawatts. Mraz said there is approximately 20 to 30 acres of land behind where Vireo Health is currently located. Ameresco would develop, build and operate the project, as well as obtain all the permits and finances and come up with a decommissioning plan. He explained that part of C.T. Males’s evaluation involved asking National Grid if they could tap into their system at that location. National Grid said the request was feasible.

Ameresco is offering to sell 100 percent of the solar energy it would generate to Fulton County under a 20-year power purchase agreement. The county would purchase the power at a certain price per kilowatt hour and then receive a credit. Mraz said the credit would be higher than the price/kwh to purchase which would result in a net savings to the county.

“We would be paying Ameresco, but we would get credit on our energy bills for that,” he said.

Mraz said the next step would be speaking with Mark Yost, the county’s superintendent of highways and facilities, to determine the energy bills from all the county buildings and verify how much energy is used over the course of a year.

“To verify whether that amount would be equal to the amount that they would be generating out there and the belief is that it would be,” he said. Yost said the county already purchases discounted power through an energy consortium at a discounted rate.

“If I was buying it from National Grid, I would say yeah, there’s definitely going to be savings there,” he said. “We do buy discounted power already. So they [Ameresco] need to know that. They would have to undercut that at some level.”

Administrative Officer Jon Stead asked if there was any type of cost savings guarantee. “I’m not against this, but we are kind of playing the stock market and I want to get a feel for sure that energy prices over the next 20 years are going to go up, as opposed to level off or go down to a certain degree.”