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October 26, 2012

Board nixes Southside water plan

COOPERSTOWN — A plan by Oneonta town officials to lure numerous new retail businesses to the Southside area along the Route 23 business district suffered a setback Thursday when Republicans on a key panel of Otsego County lawmakers rejected a request to chip in $90,000 towards the project.

Oneonta town Supervisor Robert Wood, a Democrat, and Republican board member Scott Gravelin told the Administration Committee of the Board of Representatives that “smart growth” will happen along Route 23 if the town succeeds in creating a new Southside water district.

Already, the area has 86 businesses that employ more than 1,500 people, said Wood

Those figures do not include the recently-opened Dick’s Sporting Goods store, the incoming Petco retail store nor the Courtyard by Marriott hotel that will be opening soon, he added.

Because the area is not serviced by a public water supply, it has discouraged other businesses from opening stores there, even though there has been significant interest in the area from developers, according to both Wood and Gravelin.

Wood, backed by county Rep. Rich Murphy, D-town of Oneonta, argued it would be in the best interests of the county to “co-fund” the water district because the county would realize a major new stream of revenue once new stores set up shop along Route 23.

He cited numbers crunched by county Treasurer Dan Crowell that indicate the county will pick up an additional $100,000 a year in annual sales tax revenue from the new Dick’s store alone.

Wood said the town’s application for federal and state grants will be enhanced if it finds another governmental entity to signal its support of the $9 million project by providing co-funding. The $90,000 he asked the county to kick in represents just 1 percent of the total cost of the project, he noted.

But three of the five administration committee members — Reps. Betty Anne Schwerd, R-Burlington, James Powers, R-Butternuts, and Edwin Frazier Jr., R-Unadilla — rejected the request. Murphy and Rep. Katherine

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