Messina stressed the lofty vision for Vista – the addition of thousands of jobs for Bethlehem and up to $2.5 million in revenue generated each year for the school district, town and county. State and local lawmakers made it clear that they were happy to see the project move forward.
“This will enhance our tax base to a degree that we haven’t seen in generations,” said State Senator Neil Breslin, D-Delmar. “I applaud each and every one who has been involved in this process, a magnificent process.”
State Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin, R-Schaghticoke, called Vista a “shot in the arm” for Bethlehem.
“We want jobs, we want people getting up in the morning with a place to go, to put food on their table, to earn that living that is so vital,” said McLaughlin.
The project kicked off this year with the start of construction of Vista Boulevard. Before that, Albany County, the Bethlehem Central School District and Bethlehem town officials signed off an agreement to use PILOT payments or payments in lieu of taxes, for construction of the main roadway through the park. Albany County has also committed $1 million to the Vista development.
“It is everybody in so many ways that have contributed here,” said Albany County Executive Michael Breslin. “I’m happy to be part of it.”
The first three tenants also were granted PILOT agreements from the Bethlehem IDA that will eventually amount to $200,000 in tax breaks.
For principal landowner William Jones, the groundbreaking has been a long time in the making. Jones wore a smile as he tossed a ceremonial shovel of dirt onto a pile to mark the groundbreaking.
“It’s a big milestone,” said Jones. “It’s finally underway, and I think after today, it’s going to go smoothly and quickly.”
Developers have yet to make any formal announcements regarding future high-tech businesses that will locate at Vista. Nicolla told the crowd of nearly 100 people that the development would allow the area to compete with neighboring Saratoga, Rensselaer and Greene counties in attracting technology companies.