continued “This decision was a departure from the IDA’s core mission,” said resident Dan Cunningham, who has attended several of the agency’s meetings on the subject. “They have given tax giveaways to the developer, when they are supposed be focused on bringing technology businesses to the Vista campus.”
Venezia said the time for movement is now. Vista could face competition under Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Tax Free NY initiative that would essentially allow businesses located on a SUNY campus outside of New York City to operate tax free. IDA members also cited issues in the Saratoga Economic Development Corporation that might help draw companies to Bethlehem.
“I think this is a good first step to get tech companies interested in what we have to offer,” Venezia said.
Local business owner Jon Phillips, who is also chairman of the Bethlehem Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, said after the meeting that he was in favor of the project but didn’t want to speak on the behalf of every chamber member.
“We need these projects to stimulate the economy,” he said. “I even said I’d have to go on record even if it hurt my business personally, I have to look at the bigger picture. In the long term it’s bringing more cars to the town, growing workers and revenue and hopefully attracting people to Delaware Avenue.”
At the end of the meeting, IDA board members opted to not begin webcasting their meetings, arguing it might limit open discussion.
Members decided to place more focus on attracting residents to public hearings, so as to better gauge public perception on future projects. Those meetings will be webcast and the time has been changed to Wednesday nights prior to Town Board meetings instead of at the early morning IDA board meetings.