By JIM KEVLIN – Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
ONEONTA –Brooks BBQ may be solicited to put its long-awaited new bottling plant in the former Oneonta Plaza – now home to Towne Flooring, Scholet Furniture’s Outlet and PDQ Services, the copier company, according to Town Supervisor Bob Wood.
If that resulted in the City of Oneonta running sewer lines into the town along Route 7 east of the city, it would open up the whole East End of Greater Oneonta – Route 7 east of the city line – to a new era of development, the supervisor said.
Brooks BBQ proprietor Ryan Brooks characterized current conversations as “hopes and dreams.” The company had been looking for a site for a 150,000-square-foot bottling plant expansion as recently as 2017, but has since settled into its plant on the site of its Route 7 restaurant complex, and Brooks doesn’t expect anything to happen “for a while.”
The latest round of conversations was initiated last fall, Wood said, when Olon Archer, who owns the Oneonta Plaza property, sought and received a zoning change on the plaza to Planned Development District/Industrial-commercial; that would open the way for Brooks’ initiative.
That prospect also revived the idea of extending sewer lines from the City of Oneonta into the town, Wood said.
Last week, he brought together representatives of the Big Four East End facilities – Ryan Brooks, Springbrook’s Seth Haight; Gary Smith, the Fox Hospital vice president, and Jeff Feinberg, the Price Chopper Plaza developer – as well as Otsego County Chamber President Barbara Ann Heegan.
Previously, the town supervisor said, he canvassed homeowners along that stretch of Route 7, but found little interest in participating in a sewer district, which would require them to pay a fee. However, he said, the Big Four could create a “transportation corporation” that would allow them to share the cost.
When former Oneonta Mayor Dick Miller first looked at running the sewer line out to Brooks in 2013, the cost estimate he obtained was $1.2 million, Wood said. While the Big Four were at first enthusiastic about collaboration, an investment in the $300,000 range cooled their enthusiasm, he said.
However, the town has contracted with Delaware Engineering, the engineering consultants, to revisit the cost estimate.
And, the supervisor said, there may be state programs to help meet the cost, or perhaps a “member item” from state Sen. Jim Seward, R-Milford, or other members of the county’s delegation.
Jody Zakrevsky, Otsego Now CEO, was invited to last week’s conversation but unable to attend. However, he said state economic-development funding would be available if Brooks – and/or the other three entities – were to create new job.
Last time the prospective Brooks expansion was in the news – in 2017, it was in conversations with Otsego Now over “shovel-ready sites” in the former Pony Farm commerce park – it was estimated that 45 new jobs would be created.