Thursday, May 17, 2007

Water, water everywhere...

County Republicans continue to hammer down their pipeline to nowhere this week, all but pledging to award contracts for builders to start construction on the estimated $67 million project. They claim the project must be awarded by the inception of June, lest the cost of building supplies skyrockets over the next two weeks.

True, the summer building season is cranking up in the Capital Region. Even truer is the forecast for construction supplies; as resources get increasingly scarce, the cost of building anything grows exponentially. Still, when you’re overseeing a multi-million dollar project that will take no less than two years to build, any increase in cost as a result of market flux will be negligible at best.

This isn’t even considering the fact that the county’s project keeps dropping in price as time goes on. When Saratoga Springs was aboard with the plan prior to the election of 2005, the county had placed a $91 million price tag on the project. Then miraculously just three months later, the cost dipped to $76 million. By December 2006, county leaders were claiming the pipeline would cost $67 million.

So why hurry? Under the aforementioned logic, the tax payers could chintz this price down another $13 million or so just by waiting until after the New Year. After all, that’s when plans for the soon-to-be bustling Luther Forest Technology Park will be solidified right?

Well, maybe. For the time being, however, the county has a proverbial perfect storm to get a shovel in the ground and start the project before anymore supervisors can get cold –or should we say wet –feet.

With the announcement by Sematech earlier this week and with recent growth predictions by officials from Advance Micro Design, it appears as though the Capital Region is poised to become the next Silicone Valley –just like it was five years ago. For the time being, the county Republicans are enjoying a lasting super-majority on the Board of Supervisors.

But during the last election, the Republicans suffered what could be called a Pyrrhic victory. While retaining the necessary votes to run roughshod over the county, the Republicans lost two seats –and a whole city council –they really needed to float the project. Without Saratoga Springs committed to buying water from the county, the board was forced to go back to their constituents and plead for more funding. And they’re not going to risk any similar calamities come November this year.

Already, the two Republican supervisors who went against the project have been publically flogged by the GOP. Phil Barrett, the Clifton Park town supervisor and county board chairman, had his leadership questioned because of his “no” vote in March; one supervisor said the Repubs were like “a pack of wolves” ganging up on him during a half-hour closed-door session. Then recently, the county Republicans declined to endorse Greenfield Supervisor Al Janik for a similar reason, prompting the incumbent to send out a heartfelt appeal to his constituents.

Yes, it’s clear the county is moving forward with this pipeline come hell or high water. There’s simply too much at stake for them to back down at this point. Foremost of these concerns it the small rural town of Moreau, where the water filtration plant is proposed. Were this pipeline to falter in some way, shape or form, the shovels of strip development would need to stop at Exit 16 of the Northway, making some soon-to-be wealthy land owners very unahappy.


Anonymous Hudson PCB junkie said...

Here's a pretty good story giving some insight into the Luther Forest aspect to this. There are some back stories there as well which are pretty good. I can't tell if the author is for or against the plant, but a good read nonetheless.

(Eye on Tech Valley op/ed)

8:23 AM  

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