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SITE INTEREST

Companies eager to move into GE dewatering site

FORT EDWARD | International companies are now studying Fort Edward.

The General Electric dewatering site, which will become an industrial park when GE finishes cleaning the site this summer, is already on the market.

It’s getting lots of interest, said marketer John Davidson.

By the end of the year, one or more companies will have moved in, he said.

“We have some people that are ready,” he said, but declined to name the companies until they sign contracts with the landowners, WCC LLC.

The owners can’t lease out land until GE finishes its work and departs, so announcements might not come until fall.

The companies that are interested are mostly commodity-related, perhaps shipping in material by rail or truck, processing it and then shipping it out, he said.

He had no details on job numbers.

“Some processing potential, some manufacturing potential,” he said. “We envision multiple industries.”

Companies are eagerly studying the specs and aerial photographs because of the rail line, he said. The site has five miles of railroad sidings.

The site also has a wharf, which he said has generated some interest.

“We’ve talked to some who are interested in barging materials in and out,” he said. “It’s a class-A wharf. But the rail is the primary asset. It’s a very unique and premier site in the Northeast. We’re getting area industries, to international site selectors, so it’s been running the gamut.”

He’s confident that companies will sign leases when the time comes.

“It’s going to happen,” he said. “There’s going to be development on that site.”

One issue must be resolved first: ownership of the two-mile road leading to the site.

The road crosses through Kingsbury and Fort Edward, and parts of it are owned by the Environmental Protection Agency, the Canal Corp., General Electric and WCC.

Fort Edward Supervisor Mitch Suprenant proposed having the county take over the entire road, but supervisors didn’t welcome that idea at a committee meeting Tuesday.

“Because it runs through two towns, we feel it would be best for the county to have it,” Suprenant said.

The road includes a temporary bridge, which can’t be easily replaced with a permanent one. The bridge goes over the canal, and the State Historic Preservation Office ruled that the footings in the canal are historic and should not be disturbed. To avoid that, the temporary bridge was installed eight years ago.

It has been inspected every 18 months and will be inspected again soon, said county Administrator Chris DeBolt.

He expects the bridge to last another 20 years.

“DOT said they’ve actually started to use those bridges as almost permanent structures,” he said.

But Hebron Supervisor and Budget Officer Brian Campbell asked what the county would do when the bridge needs to be fixed. Worst-case scenarios could call for the county to fund the complete replacement of the bridge.

“These are future costs we’re looking at now,” Campbell said. “Taking over the road is easy. But what do we do when the bridge needs fixing?”

The second sticking point is a short, one-lane portion of the road. It includes a stop sign, so vehicles can take turns on that section, but supervisors worried they would have to find a way to widen the road if the industrial park is successful and brings in many more vehicles.

Wetlands make it difficult to widen the road at that point.

“If that one lane needed work, how do you work on it without all the businesses closing down?” Campbell asked. “That would be a serious problem. And some of the businesses would work at night, too. That could be a very serious problem.”

Hartford Supervisor Dana Haff scoffed at the worries, noting the narrow section hasn’t impeded heavy truck traffic at the site for the past eight years.

“I think you’re making a mountain out of a molehill,” he said. “This is not the Aviation Mall you’re building.”

The committee decided to send Highway Superintendent Steve Haskins to inspect the road and report back to the Finance Committee.

Davidson urged them to make a decision soon so the board could vote to take over the road at its meeting next month. He said someone has to accept ownership of the road soon to keep the project on schedule.

“If we don’t have a road, might as well turn it back into farmland,” he said. “There’s going to be development on that site — as long as we can get to the site.”

You can reach Kathleen Moore at 742-3247 or kmoore@poststar.com. Follow her on Twitter @ByKathleenMoore or at her blog on www.poststar.com.

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