By Joe Mahoney Staff Writer
The Daily Star
---- — Schoharie County will be squandering a golden opportunity to bring jobs and economic activity to the shuttered Guilford Mills plant if it doesn’t agree to back financing for an offshoot of Butternuts Beer and Cooperstown Brewing companies, Cobleskill Mayor Mark Galasso said Wednesday.
Galasso said the investors behind Long House Holdings LLC — the craft-brew company that has stalled on completing the transaction to buy the 40-acre industrial site because county lawmakers have balked at holding a second mortgage — will likely walk away from the deal to take over Guilford Mills in Cobleskill unless the county reverses its decision.
Galasso told The Daily Star that the village of Cobleskill trustees unanimously backed a resolution Tuesday night that calls on the county to agree to the second mortgage.
The mayor said he will personally appeal to the Schoharie County Board of Supervisors at its meeting Friday to drop its opposition to the arrangement.
The majority of the board has argued that to have the county get involved in a second mortgage on behalf of the business would have calamitous consequences for taxpayers should the brewery fail.
“I think the risk that is being discussed — and I’m not saying it shouldn’t be discussed — is being completely overblown,” Galasso said.
The beer company needs a $1.3 million loan in order to make repairs to the building, which has been vacant for eight years, the mayor said.
“The building needs to be repaired or it’s going to collapse,” he said.
Schoharie County Treasurer William Cherry said he’d like to see the beer company become a phenomenal success at Guilford Mills, but it would imprudent for the county to take such a big financial risk by agreeing to hold the second mortgage. If the deal breaks down as a result, Cherry said, the county can then market the property to other companies.
“If they think this is such a good deal, let Mr. Galasso and other investors in Cobleskill give them a loan and accept a second mortgage,” the treasurer said. “If it’s such a sure thing and there’s no risk involved, let them put their money where their mouth is.”
Cherry said the property has been off the market since 2009 because the county Planning Department took two years trying to come to terms with one suitor, followed by another two years trying to complete the transaction with the beer company.
“If, once and for all, this Butternuts deal falls through, the building should be put back on the market,” he said.
But Galasso said: “How can the treasurer pretend there would be buyers just lining up? The history tells you otherwise. We have an opportunity now. For us not to take it would be a huge mistake.”