Coeymans port owner details preservation efforts

The owner of the Port of Coeymans has been depicted by some local preservation and environmental advocates as an New POC Logoindustrial bogeyman who wants to swallow up everything in this old Hudson River community in the name of his business.

But Carver Laraway, who went from a teenage construction worker to a local business mogul, said he’s more than the man behind the cranes that sort scrap metal near the river’s shore, or the trucks that go back and forth all day carrying products like dried corn and road salt from the port’s staging area off Route 144.

The Guilderland-based businessman said he wants to invest in preserving the hamlet of Coeymans. His most recent acquisition is the purchase of a historic, burned-out home that overlooks the Hudson River in hopes it can be renovated.

“It’s all about how we are going to fix up the community,” he said recently at the Port of Coeymans’ headquarters, a horse barn that he had rehabilitated after he purchased the former P & M brick plant property about 15 years ago. “Keep industry to the north, residential to the south.”

Original Source of article: http://www.timesunion.com/tuplus-local/article/Coeymans-port-owner-details-preservation-efforts-6781300.php

The port owner, who also runs Carver Construction, has seen his shipping business grow in recent years, most notably by landing a contract to have beams for the new Tappan Zee Bridge assembled there and floated down river. But he has had battles with concerned neighbors: residents and an environmental group sued him over the industrial rezoning that has made the port’s expansions possible. A judge dismissed the group’s most recent lawsuit. And there have been allegations his company and Republican former town Supervisor Stephen Flach illegally interfered with a bidding process last fall so that Laraway could acquire a derelict property on Main Street. The original bid’s price was whited-out and changed at some point in the process.

Laraway said the other bidder, a local resident, was a “sore loser,” hence the accusation of rigged bidding, he said. An investigation done by Coeymans Police Chief P.J. McKenna showed Flach admitted to telling at least one other person about what the competitor would bid against Laraway, but said there was nothing illegal done. Laraway said about the allegations: “Truthfully, it’s all bull—-.”

Some were also concerned that a landfill law that Flach proposed just as he was leaving office last month was being rammed through at the last minute because it lifted a ban on importation and incineration of garbage — something that might have benefited the Port of Coeymans.

“I’m not looking to do garbage here, that’s ridiculous,” Laraway said about the law. In the end, the legislation wasn’t passed, “As far as I’m concerned, I could care less about that law.”

Laraway said he is serious about preservation in the hamlet of Coeymans, one of the oldest settlements on the Hudson River where housing stock has been beset by absentee landlords and blighted vacant properties.

Laraway recently purchased a 19th century house at the corner of Church and Fifth streets for $20,000 that is believed to have belonged to someone in the Acton Civill family. Civill, a New York City real estate magnate and Coeymans native, built his polytechnic academy nearby in 1874 that still stands and is on the National Register of Historic Places. Laraway also owns a blighted property at 84 Main St. that the former town administration sold to him for $250, with the promise that he would tear it down. He wants to acquire a small house that overlooks a waterfall on Coeymans Creek that he would like seen turned into a pocket park.

Laraway said he has also turned his community-minded interests to Middleburgh, Schoharie County, where he owns a cabin and runs a quarry. He’s currently seeking a zoning change in Middleburgh to build townhomes and a small grocery store on Route 30.

While some new Democratic town leaders said they were encouraged to hear about Laraway’s interests in the hamlet, Paul Lawler, one of the most vocal residents against the port, said he is still not convinced. Lawler, who was part of the lawsuit against the industrial rezoning, said “our view is this is something he’s doing for publicity just to make him look good.” Lawler has lived for 30 years in one of New York state’s oldest existing homes, a stone house in Coeymans that overlooks the Hudson River.

Lawler said the noise of loading and unloading of ships all night long, plus the constant truck traffic going through the hamlet and adjoining village of Ravena has downgraded property values further.

“I believe we’re better off working with the new administration in town to find a reasoned, well-balanced approach to find appropriate ways to benefit the hamlet – not just one corporate neighbor,” Lawler said.

 

Original Source of article: http://www.timesunion.com/tuplus-local/article/Coeymans-port-owner-details-preservation-efforts-6781300.php