COLONIE — A plan by Capital Region BOCES to construct two buildings, totaling 206,000 square feet, at 925 Watervliet Shaker Road is moving ahead.
One building would replace the aged Maywood School located at 1979 Central Ave. in Albany. The 41,000-square-foot building would allow BOCES to educate more than the current 110 students who have autism, are medically fragile, in need of social and emotional support and/or other life skills training.
The second, 165,000-square-foot building would replace the Career & Technical Education Center located on a campus about a mile away at 1015 Watervliet Shaker Road. The CTE would allow BOCES to expand its programs — including certifications and training in building trades, criminal justice, health care, auto repair and culinary arts — from the current 800 high school age and 150 adult students.
There would be 514 parking spaces shared between the two buildings, according to the project presented by Dan Hershberg, of Hershberg and Hershberg, on behalf of Rosetti Acquisitions.
Brian Stabler, of BBL Construction Services, said part of the rationale to construct the new buildings is because the other buildings are antiquated and there is not enough parking for current programming let alone any expansion.
He added BOCES does not work like a typical school and students will be bussed in from 24 different districts and there are no athletic events on campus. There is a traffic signal proposed for the driveway leading to the school and Watervliet Shaker Road.
The total 38.35 acres, located near George’s Market, is zoned Commercial Office. The proposed plan would subdivide the parcel into three lots. The first 16.5-acre lot would be home to the current BOCES project on the table which would be set at the rear of the property. There are no concrete plans for the second lots — of 6.3 acres and 15.7 acres, respectively — but they are being considered by the Planning Board under this proposal to avoid segmentation.
The site would further squeeze the Shaker Heritage site, which has original Shaker buildings located to the west who farmed the parcel under consideration. Johanna Batman, executive director of the Shaker Heritage Society, said some of her organizations concerns about parking and view-shed have been addressed by the developer.
“The nature of the historic district is contingent on the buildings and the landscape and how intact the relationship is between the structures and buildings and the surrounding environment so the loss of the vacant land, while it may not directly impact the site, does potential have an impact on its designation as a historic district,” she told the Planning Board on Tuesday, July 21.
Hershberg said the final design would take the Shaker style into consideration but “because of its size, it’s not going to look like a shaker home or even a barn.”
Planning Board member Craig Shamlian said he was concerned with the lack of greenspace.
“If this property were up against the road we would not be sitting here saying it was OK,” he said. “I’m in favor of the project but I wanted to raise that point so when you come before us to develop the other parcels I will be looking for significant greenspace between the Maywood building and whatever is built later.”
The Times Union is reporting BOCES asked the Albany County Capital Resource Corporation to issue $61 million in bonds to purchase the site and construct the buildings. The project s total cost is $63 million, according to the newspaper. The CRC did not return phone calls to comment.
“We are currently planning two new facilities to replace our 47-year old Albany Career & Technical School and one of our special education buildings,” said Audrey Hendricks, a spokeswoman for BOCES. “The project is currently in the planning stages and will hopefully be complete in two to two and a half years.”
The Planning Board granted concept acceptance and it must come back with an interim report before it comes before the board for final site plan approval.