Montgomery County Executive Matthew Ossenfort asked the students of Canajoharie High School for a hand on Dec. 21.
Ossenfort and county officials visited the high school to gather ideas from students about what should be done with the site of the former Beech Nut factory in downtown Canajoharie. The controversial site is county-owned after years of bureaucratic and legal wrangling.
The county previously asked Canajoharie residents in November for ideas about replacing the rundown former factory. Some ideas for the space included turning it into a movie studio for independent films or a farmer’s market, but Ossenfort wanted to find out what future county residents thought should be done.
During breakout sessions, small groups offered up ideas such as turning the site into a regional music venue, extensive retail space, and, according to Ossenfort, the most innovative idea he has heard thus far – converting the buildings into an indoor virtual reality and laser tag arena with an indoor drone racing track.
“We truly appreciate you taking the time to help us shape the future of our county. There is a lot of pride in this area and a lot of good ideas about how to make it better,” Ossenfort said to students after the breakout sessions. “Your perspective is vitally important.”
Implementing any of the ideas from Thursday’s meeting are a long way off. The county still has years of work ahead of it with state and federal officials cleaning the site up and planning any construction. However, the early meetings have given the county something to shoot for.
“One of the big things we heard today is that you want to live, work, shop, and have fun here in your hometown,” Ossenfort said to the students. “That is a special thing. We are going to try and make that a reality.”.