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April 3, 2013

Mayor: Blodgett project would boost area economy


The proposed student apartment is in the Second Ward.

“My job is to make sure the residents up here are protected to the fullest extent I can protect them,’’ Malone said Tuesday night. Issues on the table include water runoff, water pressure, traffic and public safety concerns, he said.

In the memorandum, Miller reviewed background of visits by Newman Development officials; factors about sites considered; the status of SUNY Oneonta and city housing issues; and the study by the city Planning Commission that is lead agency for the State Environmental Quality Review as part of a site plan review. The commission will have a meeting April 10 and a public hearing April 17 on the project.

Miller, a former president of private Hartwick College in Oneonta, during his tenure as mayor has sought ways to revitalize Oneonta’s economy, a goal he reiterated in his memo.

“There has been no private project of this size in Oneonta in the last 25 years,’’ Miller said. The properties of the proposed project site yield less than $11,000 in taxes, Miller said, and added tax revenue from the project ultimately will reduce taxes paid by the rest of the city’s property owners.

The project will have a positive impact on SUNY Oneonta’s ability to recruit and retain higher-quality students, Miller said. Any negative impact on the local rental market he said he expected would be minimal and short-term.

Also, Miller said, Newman Development has agreed to pay for a significant portion of infrastructure improvements, most of which will benefit nearby private property owners, Miller said.

“The local economy can be characterized as stagnant and in slow decline. That is evidenced by declining and aging population, anemic sales tax growth, lower school enrollment, a property tax base that hasn’t increased in five years and reduced support of many community not-for-profits,’’ Miller wrote. “We are blessed by two colleges, but are overly dependent on them, and must, in my judgment, grow private sector economic activity.’’

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