CANAJOHARIE — With approximately $2 million in funding remaining for the Exit 29 Project, Montgomery County plans to demolish about 50 percent of the western side of the former Beech-Nut plant, with hopes to gain more funding to keep progress flowing.
Local and state representatives toured the former baby food plant company on Tuesday, while discussing the all the progress that has been made at the site so just within the last few year.
Congressman Antonio Delgado said his tour of the site and the progress done so far was “encouraging.”
In the past few years the county has cleared the debris piles that were on site; have cleared hazardous materials and asbestos on the eastern side and have completed demolition of the eastern side of the site; and have cleared hazardous materials from the western side.
“You can see the change and progression overtime,” Delgado said.
“The biggest thing that’s been going on this year is the cleaning out of the hazardous materials on the western side,” said Montgomery County Executive Matt Ossenfort. “Now that is complete, we are shifting our focus to the demolition of approximately 50 percent of the structures on the western side.”
The county has divided the western side into four sections and have chosen two of those sections on the western side to be demolished next, in which Ossenfort said their rational for deciding what gets demolished next by cost of demolition and whether they will be able to reuse the buildings. He said they have the funding to demolish the sections they chose, and there is no chance those buildings could ever be used again.
“This is what we’re going to demolish next. We have the funding to complete this and there’s very little chance this will ever be reused, so with the remaining funding we have, that what we’re going to work on,” Ossenfort said.
“These buildings were built one on top of the other on top of the other over the period of 100 years,” Ossenfort added.
Once those sections are demolished, all that would be left is building 17, which is where the corporate office spaces once were, and one other section that were “distribution type warehouses”, Ossenfort said.
“There is a lot of debate over if we should keep 17 or if we should not keep 17 — the corporate offices — and we’re going to continue to have that debate for some time, but we don’t have to make that decision yet,” Ossenfort said.
Completing the demolition of those buildings could take approximately six months.
“But all the while, we are working with developers, and having talks with developers. We’ve negotiated and our work with the state historic preservation office, and we’re set to move forward really with everything we plan to do,” Ossenfort said. “There’s definitely been interest by about half a dozen different developers that have expressed their various levels of interest and we are working with each of those to get them the information they need and try to see if this site is going to work for them and if they want to commit moving forward.”
“Hopefully in the long run it will bring jobs to the area,” Delgado said. “If we can get private investors in this area, we can get foot traffic into this area, that’s going to generate more economic activity, that’s going to generate more sales tax revenue, that’s going to generate more opportunities for investment in the community, over time.”
Ossenfort said the county would need more funding to continue work and demolition on western side which was the goal of having Delgado tour the site.
“Obviously we used the state and federal government as resources, we’ve had a number of conversations with the congressman, but have not had the chance to show him firsthand exactly what we’re dealing with,” Ossenfort said. “So today was a day to really let him see for himself the progress we’ve made, but also really communicate the vision that we have for the future and I think we accomplished that and we certainly appreciate all his help up to this point and certainly expect that continue moving forward.”
Delgado said to help push along the progress made, he could help with obtaining grant funding, or getting a bucket of funding as he did for the Redeveloping America Act.
“This type of project to me is exactly the kind of project that bucket of funding can be utilized,” he said.