On March 4, 2011, local, state and federal officials gathered at the Stone Pony delicatessen on Kings Highway, the first business to hook up to the newly completed water and sewer lines, to celebrate the completion of the $5.5 million project.
Speakers touted the potential for new business the utilities would attract along a busy manufacturing and business corridor at the grand opening in March 2011. More than a year later, the only new business to open on Kings Highway is Craig Thomas Pest Control, a Hyde Park-based company.
The Army Reserve also opened a new center on Kings Highway last November, but this facility does not employ local people. However, Jeff Lieberson, a spokesman for U.S. Rep. Maurice Hinchey, said people who work at the Reserve center would be likely to shop near where they work, bringing business to Saugerties establishments.
Local officials say it’s too soon to judge the efficacy of the project and that the utilities have been beneficial to preexisting businesses. Although businesses have not flocked to the corridor, town officials say the potential is there, and numerous businesses are discussing Kings Highway as a possible location for expansion, said Supervisor Kelly Myers. While Myers is reluctant to give details until plans are definite, she said one company is a large distribution center in the cold storage and refrigeration business.
In addition to the utilities, the town is also participating in the county’s “Ready to Go” program, which involves the town doing preliminary studies on potential sites to make the review process easier when a business does come along.
The town is also considering the provision of natural gas along the west side of the highway, Myers said, as several companies and the National Guard facility have expressed interest in it. Central Hudson is part of the consortium supporting the county’s Ready to Go program.
The incentive for employers to move to the area was not the only – nor indeed, the primary – reason for funding the project, according to documents related to its inception. For instance, an environmental impact study conducted by the federal Environmental Protection Agency states that the purpose of the project is to “create a water and sewer district and construct water and sewer lines in order to address problems with septic failures and poor quality drinking water along Kings Highway in the Town of Saugerties, Ulster County, New York.”
Providing the water and sewer may, in fact, have given businesses in the Kings Highway corridor an incentive to stay in Saugerties, Lieberson said. He cited Solite and Precision Flow Technologies as businesses that might have sought sites in other communities that provided the utilities.
The study does not mention the possibility of adding new business, but notes that it would serve some 25 existing businesses and 20 residential properties. “People who have water that is not potable or have had septic system failures are able to connect to it,” Councilman Fred Costello said.
Among the existing businesses that connected early to the water and sewer lines are Northeast Solite and Markertek, said Barbara Budik, the chair of the town’s Economic Development Committee and manager of marketing services at Northeast Solite. “Markertek has been out there waiting for this,” she said.
The $5.5 million project received federal grants worth $2.9 million, a state grant of $1.5 million and a grant from Ulster County for $1 million, according to a breakdown on the cover sheet of a federal Environmental Protection Agency study.