The Planning Board, by unanimous vote, gave final site plan approval to Capital Region BOCES to construct two new buildings on Watervliet Shaker Road.
One 167,000-square-foot building will be home to a new Career and Technical Education Center, currently located about a mile away on Watervliet Shaker, and the second will be a 43,000-square-foot home to the Maywood Special Education School, currently located at 1979 Central Ave.
“This project is getting state funding and the applicant is working diligently with staff to address all issues to make sure the buildings comply with all town standards and they meet their deadline for funding,” said Chuck Voss, the Town Designated Engineer on the project, during a four-hour meeting on Dec. 8. “The project fits the site and it fits the development patterns we are seeing in that part of town. We like the way the project is laid out and we like the campus approach they have taken for this site. In our opinion, the project is ready to go.”
A number of adjustments had been made since the project was first proposed in July, said Dan Hershberg, who presented the plan on behalf of the applicant, Rosetti Acquisitions. Those are mainly mechanical in nature and are related to things like the water main into the site and storm water management.
The basic site plan remains the same with the two buildings located on the plot of land furthest away from Watervliet Shaker. If Rosetti does decide to develop the rest of the land, it will need to come before the Planning Board at that time.
There will be 510 parking spots and a new, tree-lined access road will be built from Watervliet Shaker to the new buildings.
A traffic light will be installed at the new access road and Watervliet Shaker and the signal will be synchronized with the other lights that are in close proximity. Some 41 percent of the site will remain greenspace.
There was some discussion about the building’s design and how it fits in with the adjacent West Family Farm complex of the Shaker Historic District. Hershberg said officials at the Shaker site worked with the developer on the buildings’ design and had asked they not try to emulate Shaker architecture. Many of the apartment buildings and the old barn on the road leading to Afrim’s Sports Park date to when the Shakers flourished in Colonie.
“They are not looking for it to mimic or reflect the shaker architecture style,” said Sean Maguire, head of the town’s Planning and Economic Development Department. “I think the muted colors are appropriate for the district and the orange and blue are part of the BOCES brand.”
But, the fact the land is part of the historic district and is being developed will have an adverse impact on the site as a whole, according to a Letter of Resolution signed by the state Department of Environmental Conservation, the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation and CDIC II, the applicant of record for the project.
To help mitigate the impact, the parties agree to use native vegetation “appropriate to the Shaker District” and in consultation with the Shaker Historical Society, install or plant sufficient screening and that BOCES “undertake a number of projects with the cooperation and assistance of the SHS to further SHS’s mission to educate members of the public” about the Shaker community and its history.
Efforts towards the last include:
• A permanent display in both buildings demonstrating the technologies developed by the Shakers and how they were used in farming and agriculture and to educate students and viewers on the relationship of the Shakers to the surrounding communities and how they relate to the community today.
• Technological assistance and materials to be provided by the BOCES staff and students to help SHS staff develop and produce multi-media materials to help enhance SHS educational programs.
• Educational programs developed by SHS and BOCES to support BOCES educational objectives and curriculum that could include tours of the Shaker sites. “Innovation and technology, craftsmanship and design, and medicinal practices are examples of Shaker history topics that might align with the curriculum of BOCES classes at the Maywood campus,” according to the letter dated Nov. 17.
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 will be home to the current BOCES project and there are no concrete plans for the second lots — of 6.3 acres and 15.7 acres, respectively — but mechanics of the site are being considered by the Planning Board under this proposal.
BOCES reportedly 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 about $63 million.
Brian Stabler, of BBL Construction Services, said part of the rationale to construct the new buildings is because the existing BOCES buildings located on a chunk of land that sits between Watervliet Shaker and Route 155 are antiquated and there is not enough parking for current programming let alone any expansion. 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 — and enrollment from the current 800 high school age and 150 adult students.
The 41,000-square-foot Maywood 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.
BOCES does not operate like a traditional school district and will bus students in from 24 different districts in the greater Capital District. There are no athletic facilities.
In July, when the Planning Board accepted the site plan concept, Audrey Hendricks, a spokeswoman for BOCES, said it could take as long as 2.5 years to complete the project.