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Former dewatering plant site

An aerial view of the former General Electric dewatering plant property in Fort Edward is seen. The owner of the site and local municipalities are fighting over the site's property assessment. 

Post-Star file photo

FORT EDWARD — The town has declared itself lead agency on the former General Electric Co. dewatering site, which Supervisor Terry Middleton said would allow it to apply for grant funding.

It’s a move that could help the town, considering site owners WCC LLC defaulted on its $3.8 million tax payment this year, and is currently suing the town to lower its assessment for a second time.

Middleton told Town Board members in March that he understood state officials were looking at the site for a large food manufacturer. It was not clear what the company name was, or what kind of food it produced. The proposed project, according to the March 12 meeting minutes, could bring 400 jobs to the area with an average salary of $65,000.

The Town Board confirmed Monday night at its board meeting that it will be sending letters to state officials alerting them of the town’s lead agency status.

After the meeting, Middleton said the state was still considering Fort Edward for that manufacturer mentioned in March, but it was looking into other communities as well. Two other companies, he added, have expressed interest in the dewatering site.

The potential opportunities and lead agency status come after some disappointing news last year when Bombardier and CRRC’s proposal to build rail cars at the former GE site was not accepted by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

“Of course it’s vital to the town and the village and the school system that that property be redeveloped,” Middleton said after the meeting.

The two dewatering plants were assessed at $72.6 million, but that was lowered already to $37.9 million. WCC has said it does not have money to pay its taxes because its not making money at the sites, and is suing to get the assessment lowered again. The loss of tax revenue has been devastating to not only the town, but to Washington County, which could have as little as $6 million left in its savings by winter.

The Town Board went into executive session to discuss pending litigation, which Middleton confirmed was regarding the WCC lawsuit. The town hopes to have assessments settled on those parcels before grievance day, according to the assessor’s report to the Town Board. That is scheduled from 4 to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, May 22, at the Town Hall.

Reporter Gwendolyn Craig can be reached at (518) 742-3238 or gcraig@poststar.com. Follow her on Twitter @gwendolynnn1.

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