County revives effort to build business park

JOHNSTOWN – Fulton County supervisors may set aside $150,000 next year toward creation of a regional business park for Fulton and Montgomery counties.

The idea for the park, which would be built on town of Mohawk land and have water and sewer services provided by the city of Johnstown, has been dormant for several years. Mohawk and the city of Johnstown were unable to reach an agreement.

County officials this week proposed earmarking $150,000 for a 2014 capital project for the park. Fulton County Planning Director James Mraz said the $150,000 project would be a two-county venture.

He said National Grid could contribute $10,000 toward a railroad study involving the park, leaving $140,000 for the two counties to split.

Fulton County would finance the project out of capital reserves and Montgomery County could reimburse Fulton County $70,000.

“Some of it is a little speculative, obviously,” said Fulton County Administrative Officer Jon Stead.

Economic development officials from both counties support creation of the park, which would be built on just under 300 acres of Mohawk farmland in Montgomery County. The site would be south of and adjacent to the Johnstown Industrial Park off Route 30A. Land would be annexed into the city of Johnstown to receive water and sewer services.

The park would be shared by both counties trying to bring companies into the park.

Johnstown and Mohawk have been unable to agree on a revenue-sharing plan for the park.

When talks broke off in early 2011, both municipalities were considering a 55 percent-45 percent split in revenue, with the larger share going to Johnstown. The duration of the agreement appeared to be a major sticking point, however. Johnstown wanted the agreement in place for 40 years, but Mohawk wanted a longer term.

Mraz on Tuesday recommended to the county Board of Supervisors’ Capital Projects Committee the proposed $150,000 capital project be done in 2014 to kickstart the park idea.

The county’s capital projects budget is subject to approval by the full Board of Supervisors later this year.

About $90,000 of the cost would go toward engineering and design, while $60,000 would be for land acquisition.

The project would include funding for a railroad study.

Fulton County officials want to look at restarting rail service on a stretch of the abandoned FJ&G Railroad bed between Fonda and Johnstown to benefit economic development. The line would run through the proposed regional business park.

Rail service recently was discussed during a two-day visit to both counties by international site selector Michael Mullis of Memphis, Tenn. The consultant offered various suggestions to local officials, including the importance of rail service to economic development.

Mraz said Mullis indicated 72 percent of businesses coming in want a site with rail service.

“Nationwide, freight rail is becoming an increasingly important component of the transfer of goods and products in the United States,” Mraz said.

“I think this is very premature,” Johnstown 3rd Ward Supervisor Jack Callery said of the capital project idea.

He said the decision for the project still comes down to the two municipalities involved. He noted Johnstown will have a new mayor and Mohawk will have a new supervisor at the start of the year.

But Mraz told Callery that Fulton County can’t wait as it looks to earmark capital project funding for 2014.

“We have a process now to create a budget,” he said.

Michael Anich can be reached at [email protected].

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