Selkirk Bypass discussed

Bethlehem isn't bypassing any options in its quest to connect the Selkirk industrial district to the state's Thruway, CSX rail yard and the Port of Albany in what would be the ultimate trifecta in economic development.

The connectivity of being able to ship by road, rail and water would be a financial boom to the town, as Bethlehem would instantly be placed on the radar of any number of businesses around the Northeast.

However, residents already living in the area are concerned about how all of this could affect quality of life.

Several petitions have been filed with town hall against the proposed Selkirk Bypass from residents in that area who don't want truck traffic in their neighborhoods or to have their property values diminished by any possible course of action.

Town Engineer and Industrial Development Agency Chairman Terrance Ritz gave an update to the town's Planning Board on Tuesday, Feb. 17, on the activities of the Selkirk Yards Industrial District Focus Group.

Ritz expressed optimism in the infrastructure that's already in place, including CSX railroad and the proximity to the Port of Albany and Thruway.

We want to make that the next wave of industrial expansion, Ritz told board members, adding, "National Grid got an earful" at the group's last meeting because many businesses were frustrated with the cost of electricity.

The Planning Board's next meeting is slated for 7:45 a.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 25. Of the seven-member Bethlehem Planning Board, no member lives in the Selkirk area since interim chairman Howard Engel retired and current chairman George Leveille was appointed to the post. According to Town Clerk Katherine Newkirk, five members live in Delmar and two live in Slingerlands.

A possible connection to the Thruway in that area has been in the works for 20 years, according to Ritz.

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