Town of Milton, New York
Enjoy the freedom
Business View Magazine interviews Benny Zlotnick, Town Supervisor of Milton, New York, for our focus on Economic Development in U.S. Towns & Cities
In these unprecedented times of remote working and schooling, many small towns, hamlets, and villages are seeing an influx of interest from people who are second guessing their big city lifestyles. Their cramped apartments and few outdoor escapes. Those who have jobs that now have nothing tethering them to an office have leapt into country life, but others who are not so untethered are looking for the freedom small towns can provide – with proximity to a larger city to continue their essential work.
The Town of Milton, New York offers residents a short commute to Saratoga Springs where all of the perks of big city living are close at hand. At the same time, Milton can provide the oasis of calm to balance the equation. The town has many amenities of its own and a very involved resident base, which makes it perfect for young professionals looking to make a home for themselves, and for other people who are retiring and downsizing.
Town Supervisor Benny Zlotnick believes Milton is a very unique community with a lot to offer both residents and companies looking to expand or put down roots. He shares, “I think Milton is great place to raise your family, and if you’re one of the folks that’s been here a very long time and you want to stay in town, and I certainly hope that you do, there are buildings going up where you can downsize and still be in touch with your friends and neighbours, and not be that far away from them. We have a really good community here. The town has a great bunch of employees that do their jobs everyday, especially this past winter with this storms that we had. We had people putting in long hours and under adverse conditions, and they do a really good job.”
The Town of Milton has a population just under 20,000 and is located in Saratoga County, just a 15-minute drive from the city of Saratoga Springs with its famous race track, museums, hospitals and Saratoga State Park.
There are many great opportunities for students in the STEAM field with college courses offered in nearby Malta at a manufacturing facility. It’s an 11-minute drive to Malta, where there is a lively industrial park, as well as an urgent care facility.
Zlotnick knows Milton is an attractive place to live and do business and he’s working to make it even more so. He notes, “We are seeing some influx of people moving in for jobs with that company and we are also seeing people that want to get out of city life… They like to have a nice, well-built home with town services – we plow, we pick up leaves, and I think people are moving into our town because they like that level of service they get.”
The town is in a unique situation because the Village of Ballston Spa sprung up inside of it, creating a very interesting shopping and dining situation for both municipalities. It gives residents a quiet, walkable downtown area with outdoor parks and fine dining, as well as many quirky shops with lovely offerings that range from handmade jewelry to décor, and small businesses to explore. Adding to the relaxed, small-town ambience are a local grocery store, plaza, and a variety of restaurant options.
While Milton doesn’t have an excess of commercial or industrial activity, there are a few new residential developments in the works for the 55 and older crowd, housing options which Zlotnick says are “filling up rather quickly.” The town is also welcoming a Dunkin’ Donuts; Sunmark Federal Credit Union; NAPA; and Stewart’s Shops, which are very popular convenience stores/markets.
For those who can work remotely, and students who study from home, most of the community is covered when it comes to broadband fiber-optic internet. One of the most exciting things happening in the town is the Route 50 Corridor Enhancement Study. The town started this work in 2005, but it dropped off the radar for a time. Zlotnick and town council decided to pick it up, dust it off, and is now moving forward with it. The study aims to identify transportation and land use policy changes that hope to spur and guide growth in the corridor. The study will also look into improvements at the intersection of Northline Road and NYS Route 50, the entrance to the city, with different signals or a roundabout. The study area runs from the Village of Ballston Spa to the City of Saratoga Springs.
The ultimate goal is to make the road more accessible for all and to connect neighborhoods to hubs of activity, making the town more vibrant. It will address the way vehicles, transit, pedestrians, and bicyclists get around and how to make that easier for them. While it may not sound like a life-changing study, looking at complete streets can vastly improve the quality of life in a town because it gives safe, convenient access to roads for pedestrians, bicyclists, users of all abilities, and traditional drivers. With the study, they hope to provide a snapshot of the distribution, location, and characteristics of current land use in the town and to zone for the future uses that the community and municipality want to see down the road.
Zlotnick confirms that the study is almost complete, with more than 100 responses received from the community survey. This will give them an idea of what people want and they plan to do a few more in-person community consultations before the work gets started. Zlotnick explains, “Down route 50, it would be their first glance into the Town of Milton, we’ve asked the public for ideas on what they would like to see and how to dress that area up a little bit… So far, they would like to see it look nicer, obviously a sidewalk, so people from the village can walk up to the restaurants and stores that may come with the advancing of this project. I think residents’ input is very important and we listen to it.”
The town has consulted with its engineering firm, MJ Engineering and Land Surveying and developed a plan that will be formalized over the summer. It will be presented to the public for their final input, and then the ground work will be laid for looking into federal and state governments grants and help with funding to get the project done. The Town of Milton has worked with MJ Engineering and Land Surveying for a number of years and have enjoyed the partnership. Zlotnick says, “They know the town and we find them to be very professional and responsive to our needs and what we are trying to accomplish. They’ve been with us for several years now, so they know what we are trying to get to, where we want to be, and they help us get down that road.”
Until recently the town was very rural and many of the homes are still on well and septic systems, although some are on private water systems. Zlotnick notes, “A municipal water and wastewater system is something the town will be looking at in the near future. For the longest time we were a rural community and there just wasn’t the feasibility or the reason to develop that system.” In the near future, Zlotnick would also like to see the town’s Parks and Recreation Department expand to have a full time coordinator and for the highway department to finally see their long awaited new garage.
When it comes to community spirit, volunteerism is alive and well in Milton, with a hearty and successful volunteer fire crew and when they do need volunteers for anything and everything, people are quick to take up the call. Friendly, accessible, home-town atmosphere with all the social and entrepreneurial opportunities at your doorstep, and the urban extras a quick jaunt away… that’s the Town of Milton. Something wonderful for everyone.
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AT A GLANCE
Town of Milton, New York
What: Charming, progressive small town; population 19,000+
Where: Saratoga County, New York