Watkins Glen seeks land use proposals
WATKINS GLEN--Mayor Luke Leszyk announced during last week's board of trustees meeting that the new multi-million dollar wastewater treatment plant under development to service both Montour Falls and Watkins Glen is expected to open March 2020.
"It's going to be named the Catharine Valley Reclamation Facility, so you don't know it's a wastewater treatment plant," Mayor Luke Leszyk joked.
He added that the March 2020 target date was specifically chosen so that Montour Falls Mayor John King, who has announced he will not seek reelection, will still be in office when it opens.
"John King was instrumental in this project and has been with it from start to finish. He put his heart and soul into it and I want to see it done before his term is up," Leszyk said.
Along with discussing the new wastewater treatment plant, the board also discussed plans of what to do with the land that the old one sits on. The board heard a presentation regarding Concept 2 from Michael O'Connell of Larson Design Group detailing the guidelines that will be sent to prospective developers. It calls for a mixed-use facility, 16,000-20,000 total square feet, two to three stories tall, public facilities throughout and public access to the water.
"The biggest goal is to get ideas of what could be out there, assigning parameters that you want met so that you have control of this thing before it goes out so you know what our must haves are," O'Connell said.
Leszyk agreed and said it was important to note that developers would propose what they wanted to build; they just have to meet the guidelines in doing so. Regardless of the proposals Leszyk reiterated that the village would not allow any project that would restrict public access to the water.
"The village board is the majority stakeholder, we will have approval of what project goes in there. We don't want the water to be cut off from the public," Leszyk said.
It was also reiterated by town officials that the land would not be sold.
"We are not selling this," said Trustee Anthony Fraboni, adding that the lease the town would negotiate on the land would, "create an additional revenue stream."
After the presentation by O'Connell multiple members of the public interjected with questions, including Paul Bartow, president of the board for the Schuyler County Historical Society.
One resident said that when the different concepts for proposal guidelines were discussed in committees and with the public a clear affinity for Concept 1 was established and not Concept 2.
Bartow agreed, saying, "When we discussed this before it was clear that Concept 1 was what the community was in favor of."
"A two story vs. three or four story building is a big difference. Square footage in terms of height makes a big difference. I think we understand that there are parameters here, I would just say let's stick with those parameters going forward or you're going to lose a lot of folks on this one," Bartow added.
Responding to Bartow, Leszyk said, "This is why we are sending out (guidelines) to developers that need to be met to even be considered for the project... we still need to consider that the waste treatment plant is sitting on that property right now and is an eyesore on the lake. Anything would be better than that."
Bartow responded that since the plant is going to be decommissioned that eyesore is going to be removed regardless.
"This is a one time thing, we don't get do-overs, if we don't do it right if we don't take as much advantage of this property we won't have another shot in 10 years to do this," Leszyk said.
After the brief presentation the board voted unanimously to authorize Larson to solicit project proposals on behalf of the village using Concept 2 as a guideline.
"We don't have specific developers in mind. We are going to use a combination of different advertising methods (to develop interest amongst developers)," O'Connell said after the meeting.
He added, "This is going to be a long process. It's not going to happen overnight."
Also during the meeting Leszyk said the village was in the process of collecting the materials needed to conduct planned testing of local water sources for PFAS chemicals.
"We're working on it... it's a very extensive testing process," Leszyk said.