BETHLEHEM — The town’s Industrial Development Agency executive director Thomas Connolly said that “everyone on the board is concerned” about how solar installation company Monolith Solar still has not provided updates regarding whether it intends to resume construction of its unfinished Slingerlands headquarters building at the Vista Technology Campus.
Those concerns stemmed from the lack of Monolith Solar officials attending the IDA meeting back on Friday, Jan. 25. Board members remarked that Monolith Solar owner Steve Erby had sent an email on the previous day, indicating that he was planning to come.
His appearance had been anticipated as the IDA previously requested him to come with updates about the company and how it plans to get construction going again.
In a phone interview on Friday, Feb. 1, Connolly said that he did receive an email from Erby during the Jan. 25 meeting, stating that he was unable to make it due to the subfreezing weather and unsafe driving conditions outside that morning.
Erby apologized and allegedly asked to reschedule but Connolly explained that the IDA meets only monthly, with the next one happening on Friday, Feb. 22, at 8 a.m.
“The last time Erby came to a meeting was at the end of December but since then, we haven’t heard much from their end,” Connolly said. “Back in December, they said they’ll complete the building but since nothing has happened, that makes us wonder if they really mean it.”
The building’s site plan, which was issued in March 2015, expired on Thursday, Dec. 13 after receiving two 90-day extensions. The building permits expired on Thursday, Jan. 31.
If Monolith Solar intends to resume construction, it must reapply to the Bethlehem Planning Board for re-approval of both documents.
Monolith Solar has been facing other numerous issues, too.
First, it has been dealing with three lawsuits from other companies, including Solar Foundations USA, alleging that it has not paid its bills. Second, over 50 Monolith Solar workers had been furloughed and the Slingerlands building halted construction in September 2018, although a small yet undisclosed number of them have been called back since. Third, Monolith Solar was undergoing a transition period as Chris Stroud was named its new CEO in late October 2018 after his predecessor, Mike Hickey, left after just a year to work at Siena College.
Monolith Solar has declined to comment for the time being.
Despite all this, there has been one confirmed update though: BBL Construction installed a fence to surround the incomplete Slingerlands building site sometime on the week of Jan. 13.
Bethlehem Planning Division director Robert Leslie reported this to the IDA at the Jan. 25 meeting.
“We’d like to see the building be built but we’ve gone through no construction since September, and with each passing week or month, it makes us more nervous that they won’t complete the building,” Connolly concluded, “But Erby is confirmed to come to meet us at the end of February so we’ll see.”