I’m not an expert and don’t profess to have the answers. I do have basic skills that I believe play as true in most any circumstance. I know, for instance, if I own four properties my personal net worth is higher than if I own three. I understand that if I sell one and spend that money on, say, my everyday bills, I lose value and the revenue that property’s sale generated is gone. Even if the property is in need of repair it increases my net value by owning it. There is always a way to find revenue if your wealth is based in tangibles.
Any financial advisor will tell you selling assets is a last resort, find another way to generate revenue. In the case of a municipality, even its debt has value, even what needs repair has value. In the case of Stony Creek Reservoir, leadership has not even quantified its value in all ways a municipality should, especially in this day and age.
Stony Creek Reservoir is worth much more than the water the town may one day need again. This is not to say its water is not important. Its value is in the ownership of undeveloped wild land and water ways that provide incredibly important habitat for animals, plants and insects. It is a place nearby that is still available to two communities whose health it will benefit for generations to come. To continue to own such a property only increases the value of the town economically and morally. It behooves leadership to have all information about ownership of such a property, including examples of how other municipalities manage and leverage similar assets to increase long term wealth to the town. They should research and compile the findings of their research and gain professional and stakeholder (taxpayer) input before requesting proposals, or in laymen’s terms, listing the property for sale. The responses to the Request for Proposals should not be how they acquire information that informs the decision to sell.
The Town of Colonie has been making investment in the instant, short sighted development of strip malls and one-acre McMansions for so long it seems its lost sight of what actually holds its value, even under the strain of climate change events and the resulting refugee population influx currently pressuring our housing market. An empty strip mall, fractionally filled office building, or industrial complex loses value everyday it sits not at capacity. Regardless, the town still has to maintain its “gifted” infrastructure. It all costs after the first flush of revenue and as it ages the costs expand and revenue decreases.
The current administration held a meeting to “tell” residents why the decision to put an RFP out was made. They made a poor attempt at rationalizing this decision. Don’t get me wrong, the town’s water supply is one of the best. The condition of water in the U.S. is an issue reported on for decades. We are all aware of pollution into our water ways. (Latham Water District Superintendent) John Frazer did a wonderful job at explaining why the reservoir is no longer useful to the mission of the town’s department of water. From my perspective, we should be looking at the long term value of the very few assets like this, left in the Town of Colonie from a much broader perspective before it’s too late.