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Schenectady County Legislature pushes grocery plan forward – The Daily Gazette

SCHENECTADY — Earlier this week, the Schenectady County Legislature approved what officials call the first step in bringing a long-sought grocery store to the Hamilton Hill and Vale neighborhoods.

On Tuesday, lawmakers unanimously approved an option to purchase a 2.13-acre parcel at 754 State St., securing the property for the next year and a half using $10,000 in funds from American Rescue. Plan Act.

The option will allow the county to purchase the property that once housed a second-hand parking lot and connects Albany and State streets at any time during the term of the agreement for $950,000 – which would be paid using the funds ARPA if the agreement was executed.

Gary Hughes, a District 2 representative who chairs the Legislative Economic Development and Planning Committee, said securing the property was the first to bring a mid-sized grocery store to the city, where access healthy and affordable food has proven difficult for some.

The county has not only set aside $3 million in ARPA funding to help cover costs related to the future development of the store, but is also in the process of developing a request for proposals to find a developer for the site.

While it’s unclear when the request for proposals will be released, officials said the plan is to publicize the request widely in order to solicit proposals from as many qualified applicants as possible.

Food insecurity has long been a problem in Schenectady County. However, this is particularly troublesome in the city, where poverty rates are high and access to transport can be scarce.

In recent years, as steps have been taken to address the problem, with nonprofits teaming up with neighborhood convenience stores to start selling fresh produce, a full-size grocery store has remained elusive.

An infusion of federal coronavirus relief dollars could prove to be the catalyst to finally bring a long-sought grocer to town.

The county earlier this year committed $3 million in ARPA funds to the Electric City Food Co-op, which has been looking for years to open a downtown storefront. The organization recently formed a partnership with the Honest Weight Food Co-op in Albany in hopes of accelerating the effort.

The Schenectady City Council also allocated $1 million in ARPA funding to the Electric City Food Co-op, and previously set aside $1 million for four organizations – the Schenectady Foundation, Schenectady Community Ministries, SUNY Schenectady and Schenectady’s Green Market – to meet insecure food needs.

Contact journalist Chad Arnold at: [email protected] Follow him on Twitter: @ChadGArnold.

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