County makes offer to Schenectady for library land
Need for Hamilton Hill branch pushes deal after development plan fails
SCHENECTADY Because a developer’s plans fell through, Schenectady County will buy land from the city to build a new library branch.
The county offered the city $120,000 Monday for vacant land at 948 State St., twice as much as the city paid to demolish remnants of the Whitehouse Flea Market after arsonist Nathan Perkins burned it down in 2010. Perkins was sentenced earlier this year to 4 to 12 years in prison for that arson and four other fires.
The City Council indicated its willingness to accept the offer and plans to vote on it Monday.
Schenectady Metroplex Development Authority Chairman Ray Gillen said the county had been working with a developer but could not wait any longer. The library branch in the Hamilton Hill neighborhood closed without warning at the end of 2013, leaving children without easy access to computers and books. County officials had hoped to start work on the new library by now.
“We really need to get going with this,” Gillen said, adding there is a “tremendous need” because the Carver Community Center branch had to close. The library branch was located inside the community center, which closed after it suddenly ran out of money, leaving the librarians with no access to the branch.
A developer offered to buy 948 State St., donate part of the parcel to the county for the library and build a retail store on the rest of the land. But the developer ran into internal problems, according to city Corporation Counsel John Polster.
County officials gave the developer months to try to work things out before proposing to buy the land outright.
“We have to move forward,” Gillen said. “This is going to cost the county a little more time and money, but the community really needs this.”
The county Industrial Development Agency and the Capital Resource Corp., a subsidiary of the IDA, will each reimburse the county $60,000 for the purchase, Gillen said. Then, they will try to market the rest of the site for retail space or apartments, he said.
“It really will be a prime development site,” Gillen said, though he acknowledged the area is rundown. “It’s suffered from de-investment. It needs catalyst projects.”
The library will draw potential customers to the area, he added.
“It will give it a great jump-start,” he said.