Beech-Nut Demo plans move ahead

CANAJOHARIE — The Montgomery County Industrial Development Agency on Thursday approved hiring a firm to excavate portions of the former Beech-Nut baby food plant to determine if demolition of the eastern side of the 27-acre site will get the necessary state approvals to begin the project by summer.

The IDA board approved hiring Columbia Heritage LTD for $6,800 to examine the site to make certain there are no historical relics that need to be preserved before the demolition can begin.

“In order for us to demo, being that there are state funds involved, we’ve got to get sign-off from the [New York state] Office of Parks Recreation and State Historic Preservation Office before we do any type of demo, so that’ll be the last hurdle we have to clear,” said Ken Rose, the CEO of the Montgomery County IDA. “Columbia Heritage, they’re archeologists. So, they’ll be doing the archeological work on site to get us the SHPO clearance so we can go forward. On the eastern portion, those are the newer portions, so we’re not so concerned about [finding historic artifacts].”

The Montgomery County IDA in February received a $300,000 grant from National Grid’s Brownfield Redevelopment program for the demolition and restoration of the former Beech-Nut site, a project dubbed the Exit 29 Redevelopment Project. The IDA also recently received a $500,000 Restore New York grant to help clean up the debris from the abandoned and stripped-down site.

Rose said the Exit 29 project can be viewed as having two parts, the site being essentially divided by the Canajoharie Creek, which flows into the Mohawk River. The eastern side of the former plant was where the company maintained its warehouse, and where most of the demolition and cleanup needs to be done.

“That $800,000 is going to get us quite a ways with regards to the eastern side of the site,” Rose said. “The oldest parts of the site are actually on the western side, and we’re looking not to demo everything on that side. We’re looking at some adaptive re-use for that corporate office building on Church Street.”

Montgomery County has also received an $85,000 local waterfront revitalization grant from the New York Department of State that will look at redevelopment of the site over the course of the summer, which Rose said will include target industry analysis and a study of the potential for “adaptive reuse”, which might include preservation of some of the corporate office building space formerly used by Beech-Nut.

Rose said the Montgomery County IDA also recently applied for an additional $1.5 million from the New York state Empire State Development Corp. as part of its upstate New York revitalization initiative to help with the project.

“You’ll definitely being seeing some activity there starting in June or July,” Rose said.

By Patricia Older

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