GREENPORT — Town Supervisor Kathy Leck Eldridge assures the town is doing well economically and working toward bringing new businesses in after Price Chopper announced it will be leaving the area due to declining economic vitality in the area.
Eldridge released a statement Tuesday looking to assure residents that the town is working to maintain a strong economy that will continue to grow. Eldridge cited a recent article from the Register-Star about Price Chopper closing its store at 351 Fairview Ave. in her statement.
Price Chopper announced Aug. 17 its move to close the location later this month, with Price Chopper Vice President of Public Relations and Consumer Services Mona Golub saying, “Now, the population has decreased and the traffic has declined and other local retailers have either relocated or left the area.”
Eldridge regretted Price Chopper leaving the area, although the news was bittersweet after ShopRite, which is located at 70 Healy Blvd. in the Fairview Plaza, announced Aug. 21 it will move into the Price Chopper building on the company’s heels.
“It is always disappointing when any business makes the decision to close and jobs are lost,” Eldridge said. “There’s an impact on the town and most importantly the people involved and their families.”
The Price Chopper employs 106 people, including 22 full-time and 84 part-time workers.
Eldridge disputed Golub’s description of the area on Fairview Avenue.
“Greenport is, in fact, growing, but since Walmart moved, its location has clearly struggled and Price Chopper with it,” Eldridge said. “As a town, I’d like you to know that we are committed to doing what we can to encourage new businesses to come to Greenport to support and grow our economy.”
Greenport and Columbia County don’t keep record of the actual number of businesses, but the town Building Department issues certificates of occupancy to businesses moving into existing buildings without interior or exterior changes.
The Greenport Building Department issued eight certificates of occupancy to businesses in the past year and have five more certificates that are awaiting final approval, which could mean five new businesses at locations in town by the end of the year. These are approximate numbers because they do not include new business structures or reuse of buildings that do not require interior or exterior changes.
“Due to its population, close proximity to the city of Hudson and available infrastructure, we continue to see significant economic activity in the town of Greenport, specifically relating to small manufacturing, retail and solar,” said Columbia Economic Development Corp. President and CEO F. Michael Tucker. “In addition to several large proposed projects including a greenhouse expansion at the Hudson Valley Fish Farm.”
The Hudson Valley Fish Farm, Inc., is located at 4269 Route 9, asked the CEDC to help submit a consolidated funding application to help expand its operations into producing industrial hemp.
The condition and congestion on Route 9 contributes to economic woes along the main commercial strip, Eldridge said.
“We have been working with the state Department of Transportation to encourage investment in Fairview Avenue to reduce traffic jams by making it a three-lane road, with the center lane for turning and sidewalks for pedestrians,” Eldridge said. “I am focused on making Route 9 safer and improving traffic flow. This critical investment for Greenport has struggled to get attention at a time when the state is spending millions of dollars on the new roundabout at the Rip Van Winkle Bridge. The economic lifeline of Columbia County is not being addressed.”
But Fairview Avenue could see significant development in the future as talks continue with TRG Property Management, which manages several commercial properties in Hudson and Greenport, developing 161 Fairview Ave. into a commercial plaza.
TRG was scheduled to present its proposal to the Greenport Planning Board at its last meeting Aug. 28, but the company asked for more time.
TRG did not return request for comment.