GLENS FALLS — A display commemorating the old Delaware and Hudson Railway would be installed as part of a small park across from the Shirt Factory Annex in a plan approved Tuesday by the Planning Board.
Eric Unkauf, owner of The Shirt Factory, told the Planning Board that he wants to do some landscaping and add paths, picnic tables and a weatherproof display with photos and history of the old railway.
The park would be located across from the annex on 18-26 Curran Lane.
Unkauf said he would also create an extension of the bike path on that property that would link up with the existing path on Leonard Street.
He said he probably would construct a concrete path with brick inserts similar to what he did for the sidewalk in front of the main Shirt Factory building. The path would somewhat follow the old railroad bed.
The D&H was the longest-running railroad in the country, according to Unkauf. He said there is a lot of history of the railroad on that small parcel of land.
“The railroad did kind of play an integral part with the development of The Shirt Factory. That’s one of the reasons they located where they did because they could take their shirts and ship them across the country anywhere they wanted,” he said.
Based upon his research, Unkauf said a lot of tourists traveled on one leg of the D&H that ran from Fort Edward to Lake George. The railroad was “vertically integrated,” as it also owned a mine in Pennsylvania where it obtained the coal for the train, the Lake George Steamboat Co. and the Fort William Henry Hotel.
“It was a very profitable, wealthy company,” he said.
The company’s fortunes took a turn for the worse with the development of oil and later gas as fuel sources and because of the creation of the interstate highway system, Unkauf added.
Unkauf has been working to expand The Shirt Factory into the annex for the last two to three years. City officials told him recently that he needed to bring the project before the Planning Board for its review.
Among the organizations already located in the annex is the Adirondack Folk School, according to Unkauf. A distillery is also locating in the front of the building. He believes it has all the necessary permits and hopes to be open soon. In the back, there will be a potter and a photographer. Also, there is going to be a person making food products.
In addition, Unkauf said he plans to locate the maintenance shop from the main building to the annex and two woodworkers. He would eventually like to find a restaurant to operate in the main building.
“It’s going to be a lot easier without the woodworking facility there,” he said.
The annex used to be the home of a paper company. In its former life, the building did not need heat or a lot of electricity. He said he is more than half finished with the renovations.
“There’s a big divider wall that runs down the spine of the building. One half of it is completely finished out — new bathrooms, Sheetrock, insulation, heat,” he said.
“We’ll have the inside finished up in the spring,” he added.
Unkauf said he is dealing with a drainage problem. The city had repaved Curran Lane but now the street is higher than the adjacent sidewalk.
“All the stormwater for that street dumps into my property on either side,” he said. “Nine months out of the year it’s not a big deal, but come January, February, March, when the ground’s frozen, there’s nowhere for the water to go. We wind up with a bit of lake over there.”
He would like to put in a swale with stone to help absorb some of the water. City officials wanted to have a topological study done. Unkauf said he believes that was excessive.
He said he has discussed the issue with City Engineer Steve Gurzler.
“It’s probably the lowest on his list of things to do, but it’s important to me,” he said.
The Planning Board approved the site plan with conditions: Unkauf needs to submit a landscaping plan and a detailed parking plan showing the number of spaces, as well as sit down with city officials to resolve the drainage problem.
Board members liked the overall concept.
“I think it’s a good fit for the area,” said Rachel Murray.