The town of Frankfort’s loss may be the town of Manheim’s gain.
Six days after residents and town officials voiced concerns during a Frankfort Planning Board meeting over a potential meat processing facility, lawmakers in Manheim said they would talk with Full Circle Packing company officials next week about bringing the plant and its 65 full-time jobs to the town’s business park on Barker Road.
“They’re not going to build where they’re not welcome,” Manheim Town Supervisor John Haughton said Tuesday. “They’re looking for a location to build their plant, and we owe it to everyone in the town to hear what they have to say, because this facility and its 65 jobs would be a real boost to our economy and would be a real help to local farmers.”
Herkimer County Industrial Development Agency Executive Director Mark Feane said during a telephone interview Wednesday afternoon while the IDA is looking to bring company officials to the business park next week, nothing has been confirmed.
“It would be a preliminary meeting to show the company the park, because unfortunately it seems as though the town of Frankfort, for one reason or another, is not interested in the project,” he said. “It would be an opportunity to show what Manheim has to offer.”
Full Circle Packing last month proposed a more than $18 million project to construct a 40,500 square foot U.S. Department of Agriculture approved meat processing, fabrication and distribution facility on five acres of the Frankfort 5S Business Park.
John Zielinski, the company’s chief financial officer, said the plant is expected to process up to 1,000 head of dairy cull and 1,000 bob veal per week, or 200 per day, and starting wages for the facility’s employees are expected to be between $12 and $13 per hour.
“It’s like they said, this project will put more money in the pockets of dairy farmers and cattle dealers by saving transportation costs,” said Haughton, adding the company would take livestock locally as well as from across New York, Ohio and New England.
The Frankfort Town Council voted 4-0 in August to oppose the facility, as they felt it was a “desperate move” to try to put something in the business park commonly known as the Pumpkin Patch, according to town Supervisor Joseph Kinney. Kinney also said the council felt the project would have significant adverse environmental impacts, would create public safety issues and could negatively impact the rest of the business park.
“Our board’s position on this project has not changed as it voted unanimously in opposition to placing a slaughterhouse in the Pumpkin Patch,” Kinney said during a telephone interview Wednesday evening.
Page 2 of 3 - “If the company wants to explore other options through the auspices of the Herkimer County IDA that is their decision, but the town’s stance remains the same,” Kinney added.
Company officials and builders and designers from Syracuse-based VIP Structures appeared before the Frankfort Planning Board earlier this month to ask about procedures and answer questions about the plant that is being proposed. The planning board ultimately said the company would have to go through the town council to get approval.
Zielinski said while Full Circle Packing has received offers from other area sites, the Frankfort site is shovel-ready, has municipal power and is the company’s “first choice.” It is also 300 yards from state Route 5S with access to the Thruway in Utica or Herkimer.
“The facility may have run into some problems in the town of Frankfort because of the park’s location, but if it were to move to the business park on Barker Road it would be next to a farm. The company wants to be close to the Thruway, and the park is not that far from the Thruway. It’s not that far at all,” said Haughton.
The Barker Road business park is outside the village of Dolgeville and is approximately 10 minutes north of Exit 29A of the Thruway via state Route 167, according to the IDA.
Haughton added while the park is not shovel-ready, the town has plans to install infrastructure such as water and sewer lines at the 30-acre site.
“The company has had talks with Madison County, and it may have had talks with Oneida County, so the purpose of this meeting is to show them the other sites Herkimer County has to offer,” said Feane. “While it’s not shovel-ready and doesn’t have low-cost municipal power like the Frankfort site, the park does give them access to the Thruway.”
“The project would be a positive for the town of Manheim,” said Carl Stallman, Jr., the town’s superintendent of highways and planning board chairman. “It would be great to bring 65 jobs to town. It’s certainly something worth considering.”
Councilman Peter Jaikin said the Manheim Town Council would also be open to having Full Circle Packing officials attend a council meeting, if the talks progress.
“This is great news for Manheim,” said Jaikin. “Hopefully something will come of it.”
“I hope it works out,” Dolgeville Mayor Bruce Lyon said during a telephone interview Wednesday afternoon. “What community wouldn’t want 65 jobs? The business park is outside the village limits, but the village would be responsible for getting water and sewer to the site and I don’t see the board having an issue with agreeing to do that.”
Page 3 of 3 - Lyon said Full Circle Packing’s decision to build a facility at the park could lead to future development.
“If they decide to build there another company might want to locate there and bring more jobs with them. There has already been some talk of that possibly happening,” he said. “The village is excited by this possible development and I don’t see the board not giving its support to the project, if and when the time comes.”