By Ashley M. Casey
Mayor Ron Woodward dispelled rumors that Aldi’s plan to develop the former Nestlé property on Fourth and Fay streets had fallen through at the May 6 meeting of the Fulton Common Council. Demolition activity at the site has ceased to allow for asbestos abatement in the buildings.
Ralph Stacy Jr. of the city’s planning commission addressed the mayor and the council during the public forum, saying that several people had approached him after hearing that Aldi’s proposal was “in jeopardy.”
“People have noticed that the demo activity has halted at the plant and people are concerned and they want to know what’s going on,” Stacy said.
Woodward noted that Stacy had emailed him about the rumor, so he called property owner Ed Palmer of Carbonstead, LLC, and developer Bergmann Associates.
“Neither one of them had yet heard that rumor,” Woodward said. “Although he’s (Palmer’s) not tearing buildings down now, there are people inside remediating the asbestos so they can take the buildings down.”
Woodward said he also told Palmer of the city’s involvement in the New York state Financial Restructuring Board.
“They are very interested in that project and seeing it come through,” Woodward said.
Stacy also asked about a traffic study on Fay Street.
“People have noticed that there’s a traffic counter on Fay Street,” Stacy said. “Does that have to do with the development?”
“I wouldn’t be surprised based on what was said during the public hearing, but I have not talked to the chief about that because if you go around the city, you’ll see two or three more (counters),” Woodward said.
Lt. Jason Delano of the Fulton Police Department confirmed to The Valley News that the Fay Street counters are because of the Aldi project.
“With the potential of that area being developed, I wanted to get a baseline of the traffic pre-development and after,” Delano said. “If the volume increases, the state might inquire if we have statistics.”
Delano pointed to similar traffic studies around the Broadway and Phillips Street bridge projects and the construction of Walmart in Granby.
Woodward said Aldi wants to “break ground by July 1.”
County Legislator Frank Castiglia Jr. asked if there was any chance Aldi would back out if the property wasn’t ready by that date.
“Are they going to push it back then or are they going to walk away?” Castiglia asked. “We don’t want them walking away because it’s not our fault we didn’t get it cleared.”
“Last year, they were here scouting property for most of the summer. We showed them several,” Woodward said.
“I can’t believe they’d put the money into the engineering and the construction firm and say ‘It’s a weak link — let’s go.’ It doesn’t make sense.”
First Ward Councilor Tom Kenyon said he recently spoke to the manager of the Aldi’s on Route 31 in Clay.
“He said, ‘Tom, don’t worry about it — Aldi’s is coming there. … They want a store every 15 miles from each other,’” Kenyon said. “He said Aldi’s will not walk away from this, and I believe him.”
He also said he learned that Aldi carries Byrne Dairy milk with an Aldi label. At a previous meeting, Castiglia asked if the store will carry local products.
Second Ward Councilor Dan Knopp cited a previous traffic study results as a push for Aldi’s to choose the Nestlé property.
“They had looked at several properties around Fulton, and the numbers that came across those tags up there were compelling, and that’s why they’re going to stick with the project,” Knopp said.
• Dredging of Lake Neatahwanta is expected to begin in mid-July. Woodward said DEC-required core samples of the lake came back “perfect” and dredging can begin after July 15 or 17, after fish are done spawning.
• Woodward proclaimed May 11-17 Police Week with May 15 as Peace Officers Memorial Day.
“You are very much appreciated by your community and recognized for the excellent work you do on a day-by-day basis,” Fire and Police Commissioner Alan Deline said of Fulton’s police officers. Investigator Aimee May was on hand to represent the Fulton Police Department.