Public Will Have Input on $19.7M Project
• By Josh Durso
• Jun 26, 2019https://www.ithaca.com/public-will-have-...8bd6d6f0a1.html
One of the largest developments proposed in the last 10 years could be one step closer to becoming a reality if Seneca Dairy Systems and the County Industrial Development Agency can come to terms on an agreement.
The Seneca County IDA will hold a public meeting on Thursday, July 11, to provide an overview of a proposed 10-year, $19.7 million Seneca Dairy Systems project. The development would be a three-phase effort residing on nearly 75 acres of land at the former Seneca Army Depot.
The July 11 meeting will take place at 6 p.m. at the Romulus Fire Hall located at 2010 Cayuga St. The meeting will provide an opportunity for public input.
Critics of IDA deals in the past have questioned the use of tax breaks to help local developers and business owners grow or add employees.
“They’re spending our money. They’re our tax dollars,” one Varick resident said. The resident did not want to be identified but elaborated on their position, which is not an uncommon critique of tax breaks for businesses looking to expand but doing it with the assistance of a tax package. “It’s hard to do business in New York,” the resident said, “but why should every other taxpayer have to foot the bill for these kinds of developments?”
Seneca Dairy Systems manufactures steel products, including a mix of sheet metal, bar stock, round and square tubing, and specialty steels that are used to make equipment for various farm and dairy operations across the United States and other select regions worldwide.
The proposed 223,000-square-foot Seneca Dairy Systems project would be comprised of a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility and steel galvanizing mill, an office complex and a warehouse, according to the IDA. The manufacturing and galvanizing plant, office complex and a small portion of the warehouse would be built in phase one; an expanded manufacturing facility and possible warehouse addition would be constructed in phase two, and a larger manufacturing facility expansion would be built during phase three.
In total, the project is expected to retain 31 existing jobs and create approximately 125 new full-time jobs.
“This project will be a tremendous benefit to those who live and work in Seneca County,” IDA Executive Director Bob Aronson said. “We have been discussing this project with Seneca Dairy Systems owner Earl Martin ever since the IDA first decided to sell the remaining Seneca Army Depot acreage to him back in 2016. He has been meticulously planning it for more than three years, taking everything into consideration along the way.”
Martin said the project will enable the company to keep up with demand in supplying agricultural equipment to the dairy industry across the United States and in other markets around the world. It also reduces the company’s dependence on China which, given the ongoing U.S.-China trade issues, benefits not only the company but Seneca County as a whole.
“We need to manufacture more equipment here in the U.S. in order to reduce the dairy industry’s reliance on Chinese suppliers,” Martin said. “We are committed to this project and to Seneca County, and with the anticipated creation of more than 100 new, good-paying jobs, we believe it will benefit the entire regional economy.”
The former Seneca Army Depot was a military ordnance depot that once employed thousands of service men and women and civilians during World War II. The Depot continued to be one of the county’s largest employers throughout the Cold War. The Army closed the base in 2000 as part of the federal Base Realignment and Closure Commission’s program.