Vote on Vista financing plan approaches

The Bethlehem Industrial Development Agency is expected at a Thursday, June 16, meeting to approve issuing bonds to finance the construction of Vista Boulevard.

The IDA plans to issue up to $7 million in tax-free bonds to private investors to finance the construction project, which would be repaid by tenants of the Vista Technology Campus through a payment in lieu of taxes structure.

After the financing occurs, the IDA still has to select a construction manager and sign contracts for the building of the 3/4-mile road that developers say is the backbone of the massive project. It's possible that would happen Thursday, too.

Potentially then the construction will move forward, perhaps sometime in July, said IDA Chairman Frank Venezia at a required public hearing on the financing plan held last night.

The public hearing drew few attendees and even fewer participants. Town Supervisor Sam Messina was one of the few to speak, and he praised the county, town and Bethlehem Central School District for approving the unique financing structure.

"I don't think the IDA has ever quite done a plan like this, and because of what you've done I think you're well positioned for the future," said Messina, who was a member of the IDA board before becoming supervisor.

Venezia said he doesn't see the IDA getting involved in financing plans like this on a regular basis.

"I don't think this sets a precedent. This is a very unique situation," he said. "I don't foresee us ever being in a position to do anything other than a standard project [for Vista]."

The IDA will meet at 8 a.m. at Town Hall on Thursday. Though earlier versions of the plan had sparked debate on the board, in past weeks a favorable consensus has formed in regard to this financing structure.""

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