While one shouldn’t really expect much in the way of vision from a group of county planners and economic developers whose last best hope for the county was going after $90 million in federal stimulus money to build three new interstate exits, the dearth of ideas for dealing with the former Guilford Mills site is unfortunately even more depressing.
Here we have a building the IDA plainly does not know how to market, at least according to Ron “it’s too big” Filmer. We have dwindling support coming from the state for the Empire Zone program, and worst of all, we have a building that’s been rotting into the ground for almost ten years and, apparently, stripped for salvage.
Yet Schoharie County’s economic developer Jody Zakrevsky appears inexplicably optimistic about the buildings' prospects proclaiming that “from a marketing perspective, it’s an opportunity”. He’s obviously smokin’ the good shit. From my perspective, county taxpayers are now the proud owners of a multimillion dollar toxic asset.
In the best of times, marketing this basket case of a building would be a daunting challenge. In the bowels of this recession I would say the chances are slim to none. Yet the county seems poised to sink millions of dollars into this property without any chance of recouping any of it, let alone the back taxes owed on the building. The costs of bringing the buildings up to code, marketing the properties, and then massively subsidizing any potential investors will insure that taxpayers are climbing out of a seemingly bottomless financial hole on this building for the next 20 years, and that’s IF anyone (anyone who is actually qualified) is dumb enough to buy it.
All of this puts the county in an unenviable position. However, there has to be a way to deal with these properties that doesn't involve the county subsidizing another deadbeat who will only leave us holding the bag again.
Maybe some out-of-the-box thinking is in order. Let’s say there were to be an unfortunate explosion or fire on the premises and the entire building was destroyed and burned to the ground. The county could collect on the insurance and then market the site as developable acreage. You’d have a much better shot at selling that property to somebody interested in developing, I don’t know, townhouses or retail perhaps…
Such an occurrence would be terrible and tragic, but you have to admit, it would be convenient.
But I should be careful; sometimes thinking outside the box can constitute a felony. Not that that’s ever stopped certain Cobleskill trustees in the past.