16-months later, $160K report undone

JOHNSTOWN — Sixteen months after the Fulton County Board of Supervisors approved a $160,000 contract with a Troy firm to prepare a long-term county economy development “vision” strategy, the report isn’t done.

“It’s not completed,” county Administrative Officer Jon Stead said Friday. “It’s behind schedule.”

Supervisors in March 2016 authorized the agreement with Troy-based River Street Planning and Development. The “master plan” report by the consulting firm, which has various planned elements, was actually supposed to be public by at least last fall.

“We’re getting quite a bit closer,” Stead said. “It’s probably going to be [released in] the later summer months.”

Once done, officials said they hope to put the economic development strategy on the Fulton County website –fultoncountyny.gov.

Stead said he knows River Street Planning and Development has actually “started” work on a major fiscal analysis on the county, as well as a housing component for the strategy.

Fulton County’s cost for the project is $65,000. Two other revenue streams are providing $95,000 – a $75,000 grant from National Grid, and a $20,000 grant from Empire State Development. ESD is the state’s economic development agency.

County officials have said the new economic development strategy will identify a “vision” of where Fulton County wants to be in 10 years. It will also identify a series of projects, initiatives, ideas, goals and recommendations toward achievement of that vision.

Work to be done through River Street Planning and Development includes: preparing a county profile, producing two marketing videos, preparing a marketing brochure for the Hails Mills Road Extension and the Vails Mills development areas, composing a county housing strategy, identifying retail strategies for retail trade areas, downtown redevelopment, scheduling an economic summit, and researching a proposed regional business park and municipal comprehensive plans.

The report is supposed to include a color profile to eventually be be used in promotional and marketing materials. It will provide bits of existing information about the county, including graphs, tables, charts, maps, photos and images.

Unable to be reached Friday about the uncompleted report were: county Planning Director James Mraz, Board of Supervisors Chairman Mike Kinowski, and Economic Development and Environment Committee Chairman William Waldron.

Mraz has said he has worked with River Street Planning and Development to also draft a “concept” for Tryon Technology Park’s newest “development area.” That area compromises about 60 acres on the north side of the Tryon site.

The vision strategy was supposed to be released at the Fulton County Vision 2026 Summit last October at the Holiday Inn.

According to the River Street Planning & Development website, the firm offers services in the area of urban economics, include economic development, cost of services analysis, business planning and build-out analysis.

“Our extensive experience with public and private funding sources and program administration enables us to provide clients with the necessary tools for successful implementation of important projects,” the site says. “Over the past 10 years we have worked with clients to procure more than $135 million in financing for economic development projects, microenterprise programs, waterfront revitalization, industrial park development and marketing, public facilities projects, housing rehabilitation programs, historic preservation and affordable housing projects.”

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at manich@leaderherald.com.