FULTON, NY – Stephen Proietta from Aldi’s contractor, National Contractors, addressed questions from the public after a regular meeting of the Fulton Common Council on Tuesday, October 17.
Aldi, the international supermarket chain, is constructing a new store location on the corner of Fay and South Fourth streets in Fulton on a parcel of the former Nestle factory site.
The city of Fulton acquired the 24-acre lot at 555 S. Fourth St. by tax foreclosure in November of 2015 after the buildings sat mostly empty since Nestle closed in 2003.
Today, nearly two years after acquisition, the site is anticipating complete demolition of the former factory by the end of the year with an Aldi store on a 2.2-acre lot slated to open in mid-December.
The demolition of the dilapidated factory was plagued with several interruptions and contract amendments between the city and Aldi pushed back construction of the store, but as framework of the store goes up on site, residents are realizing the final steps of the store’s journey to Fulton are happening.
County Legislator Frank Castiglia Jr. arranged for both Stephen Proietta of National Contractors and Ted Rowlee of Rowlee Construction to speak to the public in regards to the ongoing work at the site including the construction of the Aldi store and the demolition of the former factory buildings after several constituents in his district posed questions.
The biggest question, he said: when is the store expected to open?
“Our target is December 15, and we’re on track for that,” Proietta said.
Castiglia described it as “a Christmas present a little early” for Fulton residents.
“I know it’s been a long time coming, but I think there isn’t anybody on the East side that isn’t happy that it’s finally going to be here,” he said.
The 18,750-square foot store will have an entrance and parking lot on the southern side of the building that will be visible from State Route 481.
The entrance to the parking lot will only come off of South Fifth Street which will be extended through the entire former Nestle site.
Neighbors in the area questioned parking lot lighting and delivery truck drop off times.
Proietta said the parking lot will be well-lit with LED lighting angled down toward the parking lot as to not disrupt neighbors. Most deliveries will take place overnight, however, they only require one truck and truck driver and are typically “pretty quiet,” he said.
“You’re doing a wonderful job. There was a lot of non-believers that are certainly believing now,” a woman in the crowded told Proietta.
Aldi will be the first developed parcel on the 24-acre site, however, Mayor Ronald Woodward Sr. said there is still a lot of interest in other parcels on site.
For neighbors in the area, he assured they are carefully considering a “buffer” to be located along South Seventh Street such as office buildings that close in the evening and will not expect to produce any light or noise disturbances outside of open hours.
Both city and county planning committees are involved in reviewing interested parties and making recommendations for optimal usage of the site.
“There’s a lot more development to do there, but there’s a lot of interest,” Woodward said.
The completion of the demolition is anticipated to happen by the end of the year as per a contract between the City of Fulton and demolition contractor, Rowlee Construction.
Rowlee has been on site removing debris since May of this year after the initial demolition contractor Infinity Enterprises backed out of their commitment to demolish the site in it’s entirety at no cost to the city. In August, Fulton-based contractor Rowlee Construction was awarded the bid to demolish the remaining buildings on site.
Most recently, the city shut down State Route 481 for two days to allow Rowlee Construction to demolish Buildings #4 and #7 which closely lined the road.
Building #60, actually composed of three parts standing in the middle of the site, is currently under asbestos abatement anticipated to be completed by Thanksgiving, give or take a few days.
“As soon as it’s done and we have clean air and we do a walk through, that building will come down. Barring any unforeseen problems, that building will be down by the end of the year and being cleaned up,” Rowlee said.
He mentioned that while it may not seem to neighbors as if they are not working on the building, the building had 35 workers in it on Tuesday alone working on asbestos abatement.
When questioned about dust and its health concerns in relation to asbestos, Rowlee assured that once demolition is occurring it is only after abatement and the dust is asbestos free, however they are using fire hoses at all times to minimize the amount of dust spread.
He noted that although they have run into several asbestos problems within the buildings, the demolition has gone through several satisfactory Department of Labor checks, with no injuries on site, and no damages to equipment or property.
After a public comment commending Ted Rowlee and his employees on a “phenomenal job,” the room responded in a standing ovation.
Mayor Woodward also took the time to give praise to Public Works Commissioner Charles Smith III, as he referred to as a “jack of all trades,” for his unwavering dedication to the city and ongoing commitment to ensuring things go smoothly at the former Nestle site and several other areas in the city of Fulton.
The mayor and city councilors ended the night with positive remarks on the direction the city is heading including interest in other business sites such as the former Eckerd plaza located on South Second Street, volunteer groups continuing to make an impact, and the purchase of a dredge this summer to continuing dredging Lake Neatahwanta next year.
Despite a sometimes troubling and controversial road, Mayor Woodward expressed his pleasure that the end is in sight for the demolition of the former Nestle site and interested parties will soon be able to join Aldi in Fulton.
“At least we’re not leaving a mess for the kids coming along, that’s the important thing,” Mayor Woodward said. “Sometimes you’ve got to take a little heat to do what’s right.”