LAND SWAP — The Oneida County Legislature’s Public Works Committee gave its approval on Oct. 3 to swapping 413-415 W. Main St. in Utica, above, for a small piece of land behind the home of Pacemaker Steel, shown at lower right, with the company. The land is adjacent to Union State, which houses certain county offices, DMV, the public market, and an Amtrak and intercity bus station in the Baggs’ Square neighborhood. (Sentinel photo by David Hill)

County poised to swap vacant Utica parcel with expanding steel company

Published Oct 10, 2018 at 4:00pm

Oneida County is set to swap a vacant lot near Union Station and the Oneida County Public Market in Utica for land even closer as a steel company expands.

County Attorney Peter Rayhill notified County Executive Anthony Picente and the Legislature in August that an agreement had been reached with Pacemaker Steel over the properties. Pacemaker will get a parcel just north of 501 W. Main St. in Utica adjacent to the company’s headquarters building on Main Street, and the county will get 413-415 W. Main St., which is in the next block west of the company’s present building. Pacemaker also will pay the county $20,000.

The agreement got the go-ahead on Oct. 3 from the Legislature’s Public Works Committee and now goes to the full legislative board.

Pacemaker makes a variety of steel, galvanized steel and aluminum as well as pipes, valves and fittings. It was founded in 1956 by Eugene Romano, a prolific community backer and philanthropist, and has operations in Binghamton as well as Utica.

Last year, Pacemaker was awarded $700,000 in state regional economic development funds toward building a 37,500 square foot modern steel service center adjacent to its 501 Main St. building in Utica’s Baggs’ Square area.

Baggs Square is the area around the county-owned Union Station, which houses terminals for Amtrak, inter-city bus lines, the county Planning Department, public defender and Department of Motor Vehicles, and is the venue for a weekly county farmers’ market.

In 2014, Pacemaker got $223,000 in regional economic-development funds for a $1.1 million expansion in Binghamton.

Another county-owned piece of land no longer needed is also being disposed of.

In the 1940s, the county obtained property at 3622 Skyline Drive in Kirkland for a county emergency and municipal radio transmitter. Since then, the county has leased land there for radio and cell towers. The leases generate about $66,000 a year, and maintenance costs about $20,000.

Piecente told the Legislature that tower repairs, site security, shelter repairs, vegetation removal and repairs to the access road will cost approximately $250,000, so he’s recommending it be sold. Private ownership would put it back on the tax rolls, he added, perhaps meeting or exceeding the lease revenue.

Land on which were built towers and equipment for the county emergency-services radio network is not up for sale.