Re: FJ&G TO REOPEN?
- doesanyone know what the workers knicknamed the railroad?
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Wednesday, January 05, 2000 4:11 PM
Subject: [FJGRailroad] FJ&G TO REOPEN?
Gloversville, New York
"Company considers use of rail line"
January 5, 2000
By Michael Anich
JOHNSTOWN -- A Johnstown Industrial Park company is interested in reopening a stretch of the abandoned FJ&G Railroad, but the plan may not be economically feasible, officials say.
Paint manufacturer Benjamin Moore & Co. has expressed some interest in reopening the old rail line from the village of Fonda to the city of Johnstown to help transport materials and boost business.
Benjamin Moore, located off Union Avenue at the Johnstown Industrial Park, approached the Fulton County Economic Development Corp. about the FJ&G matter about two years ago, plant Manager Bob Nowicki said Tuesday. He said the company's interest lingers.
"We have expressed some interest in it (FJ&G reopening)," said Nowicki. "It would certainly help our facility out as far as expansion."
Benjamin Moore has been expanding for the last couple years. Nowicki said the company is looking at its latest expansion of its warehouse by raising that roof to create an extra 10,000 square feet of space for more equipment.
Nowicki said the company approached the EDC about reopening the old railroad from Fonda to Johnstown -- a path also being considered for the expansion of Fulton County's Rail Trail, a walking a bicycle path that currently runs from Gloversville to Johnstown.
Nowicki said EDC Executive Vice President Jeff Bray estimated it might cost about $3 million to reopen that stretch of the railroad.
But Nowicki noted he approached the EDC before the new Wal-Mart Regional Food Distribution Center for the Johnstown Industrial Park was announced in August 1998, and wasn't sure if the plan was still feasible.
The distribution center is on land where part of the old FJ&G runs.
Bray said today, "We did look into the issue (reopening the FJ&G) about three years ago, when Benjamin Moore brought it to our attention. It was real cost prohibitive." He said there wasn't enough demand to warrant the expense, which he put at "well over" $2 million.
He said the EDC did some evaluations of the cost of such a project. Bray said any railroad would now have to go around the Wal-Mart site. Bray said he last talked to Nowicki about a year ago, and unless there is a project or series of projects that warrants the rail reopening, it might not be feasible.
Johnstown City Attorney Susan Palmer Johnson said today the property along the old FJ&G path from Fonda to Johnstown is owned by a corporation -- Fulton Railroad Properties Inc. There are three directors from Johnstown, including Johnson; and three from Gloversville.
"The sole purpose of that (corporation) was to preserve that railroad bed," said Johnson. She said the board meets periodically when issues about the abandoned railroad arise.
But Johnson said she wasn't sure if it would be feasible to reopen the railroad, and was unsure how a connection could be made across Route 5. She said she had been aware of Benjamin Moore's interest, but not lately.
"We know it's been floating around, but we didn't know that it's current," she said.
Nowicki said Benjamin Moore has not been in touch with Wal-Mart about reopening the railroad.
Wal-Mart spokesman John Bisio in Bentonville, Ark., said today the giant retailer has not been contacted by Benjamin Moore. He said Wal-Mart had no comment at this time, and he was unsure whether Wal-Mart "has any bearing" on any plan to possibly reopen the railroad.
The $45 million, 868,000-square-foot Wal-Mart distribution facility is due to open in June, with initial creation of 360 jobs.
The Fulton County Regional Chamber of Commerce & Industry is leading Fulton County's Rail Trail project. The only developed part of the trail is just under three miles from Johnstown to Gloversville. The next phase of the project calls for development of the trail from Gloversville to Vail Mills. Eventually, the chamber hopes to develop the project from the village of Fonda north to Broadalbin.
James Mraz, director of the Fulton County Planning Department, said that as part of the abandonment process, the Cooperstown-based Delaware & Otsego Corp. pulled the tracks out along the FJ&G in the 1980s.
As part of the recreational trail project, Mraz said the chamber would have to bypass the original railroad bed. "Because the Wal-Mart project took a part of the section of the railroad, if the trail is built from Johnstown south, it would be routed around the facility," he said.
Johnstown Mayor William M. Pollak said Tuesday he didn't know the paint company was interested in the old FJ&G.
"This is the first I've heard of this," he said. Pollak added that the land on which the old railroad once ran is still "not technically" the city's.
Lisa McCoy, chamber president, was also unaware Tuesday of Benjamin Moore's interest in reopening part of the old rail line. But she noted she has only been at her chamber job since last April.
"We'll work with whoever possible to make sure all interested parties are happy on this," she stated.
McCoy said that on one hand, the chamber doesn't want to impede economic development. But she said the chamber also feels the Rail Trail -- if it is eventually built in the southern part of Fulton County -- will be a benefit to employees of the new Wal-Mart facility and any other Johnstown Industrial Park companies that want to use the trail.
"Obviously, they're (Benjamin Moore) not going to jump into something that's not fiscally prudent," McCoy added.
Sean Geraghty of the Fulton County Planning Department -- who has been working on technical aspects of the Rail Trail project for the chamber -- said today, "That's (reopening the railroad) going to be a tremendous undertaking. You would need a railyard, for one thing."
Benjamin Moore was named the EDC's 1999 Outstanding Business. Earlier last year, EDC officials said the company has continued to grow since moving a factory to Fulton County in 1989. The plant last year had about 65 employees, but has seen its production increase five-fold, according to the EDC.
The company produced more than 5 million gallons of paint in 1998. In 1991, Benjamin Moore began local production of latex resin. The EDC said the Benjamin Moore plant in Johnstown was named the most efficient plant in operation, companywide. It services 400 dealers in New York, Vermont, Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia and Kentucky. It also produces paint for other Benjamin Moore plants.
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