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February 22, 2014

Brooks' to get $600,000 funding for 'mini sewer plant'

By Joe Mahoney
The Daily Star

---- — A total of $600,000 in government-backed low-interest loans and grant funding as been lined up to assist Brooks’ House of Bar-B-Q in replacing an aging septic system with a new “mini sewer plant,” officials said Friday.

Alexander “Sandy” Mathes, the consultant to the Otsego County Industrial Development Agency, said the money is expected to come from an Otsego County loan fund, the Otsego County Development Corporation, and a 10-county low-interest loan program operated by Broome County.

Officials said Brooks’, in the process of building an expanded bottling facility that will allow it to step up the production of sauces sold in stores, has been getting pressure from the state Department of Environmental Conservation to upgrade its septic system.

The bottling facility is adjacent to the Brooks’ restaurant at 5560 State Route 7 in the town of Oneonta, where public water and sewer systems are lacking.

Mathes said the option of running a sewer line into that area of the town was explored but there would be insufficient financial backing to install one.

Mathes, recently hired by the local IDA, said he is confident the financial package for Brooks’ will be finalized soon. 

“We don’t anticipate any issues,” he said.

Eastman Associates, the general contracting firm headed by Richard Eastman, has been building the bottling plant and will also also install the sewer system.

“It’s all very positive,” Mathes said in noting the boost for Brooks’ is expected to help the company take its line of sauces made in Oneonta into new markets.

Ryan Brooks, the third generation owner of Brooks’ Bar-B-Q, said the new bottling plant will be the springboard for an expansion of sauce production for the company.

“We’re definitely pro-growth,” Brooks said.

 He said the company has been working “hand in hand” with the Department of Environmental Conservation in moving ahead with the new sewer system.

“We may not see municipal water and sewer here for some years,” he observed.

Mathes outlined the Brooks’ plan to the intergovernmental affairs committee of the Otsego County Board of Representatives earlier this month.

According to the minutes of that meeting, a request for a $125,000 no-interest loan and a $125,000 grant from the county loan program was approved by a 4-0 vote, with county Reps. Betty Anne Schwerd, R-Burlington, Craig Gelbsman, R-city of Oneonta, Rick Hulse Jr., R-Fly Creek, and Beth Rosenthal, D-Roseboom, all backing it.

Mathes said at that meeting that DEC has approved the Brooks’ plan to replace the septic system with the new methodology at a cost of $750,000, according to the meeting minutes.

Mathes told The Daily Star that Brooks’ will chip in the difference between the full project cost and the $600,000 package of grants and loans.

A DEC spokesman, Rick Georgeson, said Friday morning he had no information to offer on his agency’s concerns with the septic system at the business. Contacted again late Friday afternoon, Georgeson said he was still waiting to get information from his colleagues. 

“They’re working on it,” he said.