County Rep. Peter Oberacker, R-Schenevus, (and Otsego Now then-President Sandy Mathes) must have been prescient.

A little over three years ago, they proposed 130 acres of level land on a rise to the north of I-88’s Exit 18 at Schenevus for a 250-500-job distribution center, the type used by Amazon, Dollar General, Walmart — virtually every major U.S. retailer.

Today, after months of study, Adam Frosino, an engineer from McFarland Johnson, Binghamton-based consulting engineers, told the county Board of Representatives that 86 potential sites had been identified within two miles of Otsego County’s nine I-88 exits. They had been winnowed down to 26, then 10, then five, then two.

Of those two, the reps selected … the site championed by Oberacker and Mathes at the outset.

The site, said Frosino, is right off I-88, where an entrance with “curb appeal” can be created by turning the T at the exit and Route 7 into a four-way crossroads. Plus, a second entrance is possible from Smokey Avenue, which runs along the site’s west side.

There’s sufficient land for a 600,000 square foot building, access to utilities, and an owner — Ron and Helen Kinch — willing to sell.

The second site was across I-88 from Schenevus off Route 41 on Tait Road. It could accommodate a 1-million-square-foot building, but it’s two miles from Exit 18, and Route 41 has a 10 percent grade, a challenge for many rigs, particularly on icy days, that would have to navigate it daily.

While looking for a site for a million-square-foot building, Frosino was asked what big retailer would be interested in a 600,000-square-foot one. “All of them,” he replied. Some distribution centers are as big as 1.5 million square feet; some as small at 300,000 square feet.

The Schenevus site is just right.

Oberacker, who is now running for state Senate to succeed retiring state Sen. Jim Seward, R-Milford, points out the #1 site is also south-facing, meaning anyone who locates there can take advantage of solar energy to allay costs.

It was also pointed out that a distribution center could spur related development — a truck stop/gas station, for instance, or a motel.

The next steps, Frosino said, are a market survey, conceptual site plans, a conceptual cost estimate and obtaining environmental. The idea is to make the site “virtually shovel-ready,” he said.

The idea, also, is that Otsego Now, the county’s economic development arm which today received a $75,000 allocation from the county reps, would buy the site and market it. Since it would be job-creating, there would likely be state grants available to help with its development.

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