Town of Plattsburgh Supervisor provides update on town development and other initiatives
Town of Plattsburgh Supervisor Michael Cashman reported this month the town approved more than 326,000 square feet of new industrial and commercial construction during the first quarter of 2022. Cashman tells WAMC North Country Bureau Chief Pat Bradley the location of the Clinton County community is aiding a Smart Growth Plan developed by the town.
Plattsburgh continues to be identified as a great place to live, work, play, but also invest or reinvest. We have a strong market because of our location with the Canadian market. We're home to many North American headquarters, both Canadian businesses and others. And we have been recognized both internationally, state and locally many times over. I like to say that we're globally recognized and regionally significant.
The Chamber is very fond of saying we're a transportation manufacturing cluster. Are the types of businesses locating here in that sector or are you seeing more of a diversity?
I would say that there's diversity within the overall portfolio that the town holds. But the manufacturing, transportation, aerospace clusters are very critical to the success that we're seeing in the region. But there are others outside of that. We continue to see significant interest in folks getting into the marketplace here. But what is just as exciting is people are also reinvesting in these businesses or businesses that are changing hands to maybe the second generation or the third generation which I think really shows how strong we are. I think what you always hope for is that there is some diversity within development that's occurring in your community. You want to see businesses continue to grow and expand. But you also want to make sure that there's some diversity within the market, so that as things change you can continue to address new trends and opportunities and that we can continuously be relevant.
The town is also known as being a retail hub. What type of activity are you seeing on the retail end of business in the town?
Sure. So retail was really hit during COVID. And I say that in the most broadest terms from retail stores to even restaurants and hotels. Having the Canadian border back open, we are starting to see very quickly the flood of our friends to the north come back into the marketplace. It's going to impact the marinas. It's going to impact the hotels, the restaurants, etc. People have been asking for traffic counts. They've been asking for the development information because they acknowledge Plattsburgh is a important market to them expanding or doing some different things. So I'm hopeful that we will have a healthy year. That if we don't see development in that arena by the third or fourth quarter that we'll have a very strong 2023 because it's laying up to be that way.
In the release that you sent out you mention that single family residential development, you've issued 10 new permits thus far. You don't say if that's for individual houses or apartment units or what type of residential units that's for. But I'm curious how aggressively the town is trying to recruit residential developers and how well that's keeping up with the business development?
That's a great question, Pat. The Town of Plattsburgh's position has been for a long time now that we are going to support multi-use development in the town. One of those is housing. I fully acknowledge that we need housing across the full spectrum. We need affordable housing. We need executive housing. We need housing in the rural parts of our township. We need housing on the lakeshore of Lake Champlain. The town has good codes and zoning and planning that if people are interested in bringing housing into the region it can be onboarded pretty easily. So we continue to promote and advocate and partner when appropriate to bring about good housing.
Along with that you need to supply the housing and the businesses with energy. You've mentioned at some events that the town is getting two new solar installations. Are these private? Are these commercial? What's going on with the solar installations?
Yup. So the solar are private developments. There are approximately four. Right now one is fully developed. Again, supply chain has been part of the issue for some of these projects as well. But the Town of Plattsburgh adopted in 2018 a local solar law. It was one of the first of its kind because it very easily laid out the expectations of where these solar farms can be developed. And also we included what we call a Public Benefit Component. The Public Benefit Component is funds that are paid to the town that then go back to supporting our sustainable goals as well. But I would also tell you at the same time the Town of Plattsburgh in 2018 became the first community identified by NYSERDA, or designated by NYSERDA, as a clean energy community in Clinton County and we've continued to take that on and lead in the region.
So with the solar projects that are either completed or in progress, what's the potential for even more solar in the town?
I would anticipate that we will see even more solar projects moving forward. But a good example of why this local solar law is also helpful to the town is it protects core areas of the town for development. So you won't see a 25 to 30 acre solar farm on Tom Miller Road, which is in the dead center of the town center, or in the commercial district. We want to see lands that are good to support that being on the transmission lines, but also not carving up the town in such a way where we stymie future development for the town that has the most significant impact.
Is the town looking at other types of renewable energy development?
The town is always open to having conversations with that. One of the things that we did is that we onboarded a hybrid into our fleet, one of the first in the North Country. And of course we were able to advocate for the New York State Power Authority to put the rapid e-chargers in Consumer Square. That's a very big thing for the Canadian market. Lots of Canadians have electric cars. And if we want Canadians to come down and do a day trip, or you know, be in Plattsburgh and use as a jump off place that's a huge win for us, for them to be able to take advantage of them, as well as other people from around the country. The green economy is not going anywhere. It's not a fad.
What's the status of the project regarding the Battlefield Memorial Gateway Park? That's something that's close to your heart.
Yeah, that's definitely a passion project. Thanks for asking Pat. The Battlefield Memorial Gateway continues to advance. During the two peak years of COVID we took advantage of that time to continue doing the planning and looking at the schematics and the drawing and all the paperwork and logistics that the project still needed to get done. At the end of last year we received $900,000 from New York state through a consolidated funding application. So again, this project is real. It's moving forward. Unfortunately like many things with COVID things got slowed down, not stopped, and we're continuing to move that forward. So we're hoping that the project will move into the next phase by this fall where we'll start to see some construction. But again some of that is being tied up in supply chain. It seems like everything is just being hammered with that. And also just getting some of the grant information tied off. The idea is that people could go up on the Empire State Trail, that's gotten a lot of attention, pull into the park, take advantage of the beautiful resources and the history and then jump on the Terry Gordon Bike Path and then go over to the Old Base Campus Museum, maybe go to the Clinton County Historical Association etcetera. So what we're looking to do is to create the important linkages and then build out that park. Our goal is to have a space active enough that we can be in a position to help celebrate the 250th anniversary of our nation in 2026. But you know the project will go well beyond that as well. Because the idea is to get it anchored in the history of the past going back all the way to the American Revolution and then find ways to continue to tell the American story from that space.
The Town of Plattsburgh also recently approved a new three-year agreement with the union representing its highway, building and grounds and water department employees.