JCIDA concerned about projects

Developer Michael E. Lundy speaks to the Town Planning Board. Watertown Daily Times

WATERTOWN — Developer Michael E. Lundy is coming close to making a decision on whether to proceed with a proposed meat processing plant that would be built in an agribusiness park being developed on Route 3.

Mr. Lundy said Friday that he hopes to announce a ground-breaking in the next 60 to 90 days for the medium-sized meat processing plant that would most likely be built in the Thousand Islands International Agribusiness Park, adjacent to Jefferson-Lewis BOCES on Route 3.

“I’m 90 percent sure that it would be built in the agribusiness park,” he said, adding that he’s also looking at sites outside of Jefferson County.

An unidentified investor continues to express interest in getting involved in the meat processing plant that would take about $25 million to construct and then have a $16 million to $20 million line of credit on a daily basis to process 200 cows per day.

Jay M. Matteson, the agricultural coordinator for Jefferson County, said a small- to medium-sized meat processing plant would be a coup for the local economy and agricultural industry as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

With 60,000 cows alone in Jefferson County, area farmers must send their animals to Pennsylvania meat processing plants. About a third of those animals are shipped there per year. The plant would process mainly beef for hamburgers.

Farmers would have the opportunity to earn more revenue if their animals are processed here in a plant, rather than in the Keystone State, he said.

“The COVID disease has developed an interest in local meat products that has ramped up exponentially,” Mr. Matteson said.

Mr. Lundy still needs to find a company to operate the plant, Mr. Matteson said.

A consultant that Mr. Lundy hired to complete a feasibility study, Dakota Global Consulting, concluded that a processing plant could handle much more livestock than the 200 cows a day and be profitable.

“The feasibility study was more optimistic than I thought,” he said. “It’s definitely very, very viable. The economic benefits would be tremendous.”

For the past six years, Mr. Lundy has been working on bringing a meat processing plant to the area but has hit some snags along the way.

“This is my last shot to do it,” he said.

The agribusiness park would be the logical location for the meat processing plant.

With construction progressing, the 220-acre agribusiness park, which straddles the towns of Watertown and Hounsfield border, will soon be the home of Eagle Beverage and Cazenovia Equipment Co.

Earlier this week, Mr. Lundy said he was pulling the plug on two projects and his business interests in the Jefferson County corporate park on outer Coffeen Street because of a disagreement with the Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency, citing the board was more interested in politics than economic development.

On Friday, he expressed concern that the political nature of the IDA board could impact the meat processing plant project.

Find out more

Mr. Matteson will interview Travis Maddock, a principal with Dakota Global, during “a kitchen table” discussion about the industry and the proposed plan as part of the Farmers Luncheon webinar at noon on July 23. Visit https://www.agricultureevents.com/ to register for the webinar.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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