By Gordon Woodworth, Chronicle News Editor
Neal Orsini, who’d served on the Fort Edward Town Board for 14 years, resigned last week “in a private letter to supervisor Terry Middleton,” he told The Chronicle.
“It was announced last night at a town board meeting,” Tuesday afternoon.
Why did he resign?
Partially, said the Republican, out of respect for Democratic Paul Middleton, who lost his race for re-election as town supervisor to Republican Lester Losaw.
Mr. Orsini says, “I thought, we ran as a bipartisan team, we’ll go out as a bipartisan team.”
He elaborated. “I’ve been involved in volunteer work and politics ever since I opened up my restaurant [The Anvil Inn] 33 years ago. When Mitch Suprenant took over as Supervisor, I got to know Terry Middleton pretty well, and we served on the board together for eight years.”
Mr. Orsini said two years ago, Mr. Middleton came to him concerned about the defunct former GE dewatering facility.
“I suggested he run for supervisor, and appoint me deputy supervisor,” Mr. Orsini said. “We were both victorious, and we worked together for the last two years on the dewatering site, trying to get the taxes paid and get the site operational again. I feel we’ve done that.”
Both men served on the Fort Edward Local Property Development Corporation, a 501(c)3 designed to market and promote the former dewatering site.
Last month, WL Plastics announced plans to invest $16-million to build a pipe manufacturing plant on the dewatering site. WL is under contract to buy about 23 acres of the 88-acre site, Mr. Orsini said.
“Unfortunately I couldn’t say a word about it,” he said. “I signed a non-disclosure agreement, and Terry didn’t say anything because he’s just a good person. And The Post-Star ripped us to shreds.”
Mr. Orsini said he will continue on the FELPDC board and that he is in discussions with the Warren-Washington IDA about possibly buying the remaining acreage at the site, which he said includes the “best railyard this side of the Mississippi River. It’s state of the art.”
The Warren-Washington IDA was scheduled to hold a public hearing on Wednesday, Dec. 4, at 10 a.m., and a special meeting at 4 p.m. to consider awarding tax breaks and a PILOT agreement to WL Plastics.
The Post-Star reported that the Fort Edward Town Board and Fort Edward Village Board both expressed support for the proposed plastics plant.
Mr. Orsini said he will also continue as treasurer of the Fort Edward LDC and remain involved with the Rogers Island Visitors Center. Plus, he said he’s helping with a planned rebranding of the Fort Edward Chamber of Commerce.
Mr. Orsini said Mr. Middleton appointed Peter Ives, who served as the town clerk during Mr. Middleton’s tenure, as his replacement on the town board.
“He knows the numbers of the town better than anyone,” he said.
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