Team needs both cities

Given the sheer number of small municipalities in the area, cooperation always will be a key to economic development. Too many projects risk getting bogged down in lawsuits or bureaucratic red tape when our elected officials fail to compromise.

It is a good sign Gloversville and the town of Johnstown have restarted the Development Process Team.

Under a Cooperative Development Agreement in December 2010 regarding “covered property” near the new Walmart supercenter in Gloversville, the development team is responsible for reviewing proposed development and determining services the city would provide to the site.

The development team – which has eight members, four from each municipality – also was set up to work with the owner and any potential developer of the property around Walmart to identify the potential sales-tax, property-tax and other municipal revenues to be generated from development of the property and the cost of providing services, according to the agreement.

Officials already have said the development team won’t limit its discussions to the Walmart site, which is encouraging.

Any future development unrelated to the Walmart site would require a separate agreement, and the terms would have to be negotiated by the town and city. Such a deal will not be easy to come by if the officials do not understand what sort of compromise their counterparts will be likely to accept.

Considering how long it took for the Walmart project to come together – and given how contentious even the simplest of talks can be between the two municipalities – officials from the town and city need to meet regularly. This is a good start.

They should not let these meetings fall by the wayside. While there may be times the members have no specific development to talk about, the team at least can work on getting a general agreement in place as to how properties will be developed in the town if they require city services. That could save businesses and elected officials from future headaches.

There are some key players missing from these meetings, however: officials from the city of Johnstown.

From a practical standpoint, the city of Johnstown should be brought into these meetings. It could save everyone some time. Recall the situation with Eagle Chevrolet, which required some fast and tense negotiations between the town and city of Johnstown in order for Eagle to make a small move into the town.

The Glove Cities need to understand what they can expect from each other. Less than two years ago, the Fage USA expansion in the Johnstown Industrial Park appeared imperiled, requiring a call from Gov. Andrew Cuomo before a deal finally was approved.

The three municipalities may be able to avoid future problems if they meet together regularly.