County lawmakers want more economic development discussions

NORWICH – From repairing the defunct New York Susquehanna & Western rail line through Norwich to expanding the runway at Lt. Warren Eaton Airport, economic development ideas have swirled around government meetings held at the County Office Building this spring.

Perhaps the most innovative suggestions so far are to build a natural gas transmission pipeline along the railroad tracks and to transform the county’s airport into a drag strip.

Town of Greene Supervisor Jack Cook was only half joking when he suggested those ideas to members of the Chenango County Planning & Economic Development Committee in May.

“There’s no industry in Chenango County right now. We’d have more people here than we’d know what to do with,” he said.

Cook and other supervisors, such as Ross Iannello of New Berlin, say there must be a way to tie the natural gas riches beneath the surface with the rail lines. Using rail cars to transport the waste water from drilling wells was another idea floated during a meeting of the Chenango County Natural Gas Committee in January.

Natural gas poses a lot of opportunity, says Steven Palmatier, a member of the gas committee and Commerce Chenango Governmental Affairs committees. Economic developers should be building a database of businesses that use gas in their manufacturing processes, he said, such as fertilizer companies, or companies that could build co-generation plants to make electricity.

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