Missile site considered for Fort Drum could employ 1,800

Maj. Chris J. Anderson, center, gives an overview of the proposed missile site at Fort Drum, during a meeting at Carthage High School on Tuesday. Amanda Morrison / NNY Business

Maj. Chris J. Anderson, center, gives an overview of the proposed missile site at Fort Drum, during a meeting at Carthage High School on Tuesday. Amanda Morrison / NNY Business

Residents got their first look Tuesday at what a potential missile defense site at Fort Drum could mean for the region: a facility costing as much as $4 billion to build that would create as many as 1,800 permanent jobs.

The sprawling site, covering hundreds of acres along Route 3A, initially would contain 20 ground-based interceptors, with the ability to expand to 60 interceptors, designed to shoot down incoming enemy missiles. The Defense Department says the missiles would be for defensive purposes and would not contain warheads.

The military has not decided whether a site is need on the East Coast to augment America’s current missile defense locations at Fort Greely, Alaska, and Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. If such a facility is ultimately approved, however, Fort Drum is on the short list of sites to host it.

The economic impact on the north country would be substantial. The site would create 400 to 600 temporary construction jobs, and an estimated 1,200 to 1,800 permanent military, civilian and contractor jobs, according to Lt. Col. Chris W. Snipes, program manager for continental United States interceptor sites. [Read more...]

Developer urges city lawmakers to build Stateway Plaza road

Patrick M. Donegan heard rumors that City Council members are not interested in spending the money to construct a connector road that would go through the parking lot of Stateway Plaza.

So the Alexandria Bay developer showed up at Monday night’s meeting to lobby the Watertown City Council to move forward with the project that has been talked about for years.

“I’m getting impatient and nervous,” he said.

He reminded council members that they promised to construct the road before he invested $30 million in Watertown City Center, where the Hilton Garden Inn, Holiday Express, Ruby Tuesday and other retailers are located.

In recent years, several high-end retailers also have shown an interest in the last remaining vacant land at the development site, off Arsenal Street and near Interstate 81, he said. But the big-box retailers all have said the same thing — they won’t come unless the road is constructed, he said.

“You’re going to get a return on your investment,” he said. “It’s not a loser.”

After hearing what the developer had to say, Mayor Jeffrey E. Graham said council members were planning to discuss the matter in executive session later in the night.

Before the closed-door session began, City Attorney James A. Burrows declined comment about the status of acquiring the needed property from plaza owners Ben Wygodny and Martin Wenger, both of Montreal.

Six weeks ago, Mr. Burrows said the city might initiate eminent domain proceedings to obtain the land needed for the project after the owners failed to respond to city’s requests to purchase it for $345,000.

In June, Mr. Burrows said he was preparing to start the proceedings.

The City Council has been divided on the issue. The road would connect Arsenal Street through the Stateway Plaza parking lot to Gaffney Drive at the northern end.

But Mr. Donegan reminded council members that the city annexed a portion of the Watertown City Center site from the town, so he could develop the property.

For that portion of the site, his development has generated 390 jobs, $5 million in sales taxes and $4 million in property taxes for Jefferson County, he said.

Critics expressed concern about the exorbitant cost of building the road. The most recent projection came in at $1.75 million.

By Craig Fox, Times Staff Writer

Jefferson County sheriff candidates say department’s armored truck to be used only in “extreme” circumstances

The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department’s new MRAP after a paint job last fall. The protests in Ferguson, Mo., have prompted debate on the use of police force. Amanda Morrison / NNY Business

The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department’s new MRAP after a paint job last fall. The protests in Ferguson, Mo., have prompted debate on the use of police force. Amanda Morrison / NNY Business

What do Watertown, N.Y.; Watertown, Conn., and Watertown, Wis., have in common?

Law enforcement agencies in or near all three cities have large armored vehicles given to them by the same federal government program receiving renewed attention as an indirect result of protests over the killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo.

Law enforcement officials in that city, which has a population of roughly 21,000, have been criticized for using military-style equipment and tactics to dispel the protestors, a strategy some observers have said has only exacerbated the situation.

Last September, Jefferson County acquired a $600,000, 21-ton, 2008 International MaxxPro Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle through the 1033 program, which authorizes the transfer of excess Department of Defense property to federal, state and local law enforcement agencies for use in counter-drug and counterterrorism activities.

The vehicle was the subject of some controversy in the weeks following the news that it had been acquired, with some Jefferson County legislators calling it “excessive.” [Read more...]

Florelle plant in Brownville could reopen this fall

Florelle Tissue Corp. President Harry Minas, seen in 2011 with the Brownville factory in the background, is looking for financiers for a potential merger to rescue the company from its debt. Norm Johnston / NNY Business

Florelle Tissue Corp. President Harry Minas, seen in 2011 with the Brownville factory in the background, is looking for financiers for a potential merger to rescue the company from its debt. Norm Johnston / NNY Business

Florelle Tissue Corp., temporarily shuttered for about a year and strapped with debt, could start making paper products again on a limited basis this fall.

Company President Harry Minas said Wednesday that electrical repairs needed to reopen the plant were finished in June. A transformer that supplies three-phase power to the plant’s eight papermaking machines failed, forcing the plant to close in August 2013. The company has been unable to make payments on public loans.

Mr. Minas said about $40,000 in personal funding was invested to repair the transformer, but more funding will be needed to make the plant operational this fall. [Read more...]

Attorney general’s office seeks information on North Side Improvement League land swap

475 Vanduzee St. will be the new home of the North Side Improvement League. Justin Sorensen / NNY Business

475 Vanduzee St. will be the new home of the North Side Improvement League. Justin Sorensen / NNY Business

The local office of the state attorney general’s office wants to talk to representatives from the North Side Improvement League about a deal to swap its Mill Street club for property on VanDuzee Street.

Deanna R. Nelson, assistant attorney in charge of the attorney general’s Watertown office, has confirmed that she sent a letter to league officials to set up a meeting to find out about more about the property swap. She wants to review the details of the trade, Ms. Nelson said Friday.

“I need to know more about it,” she said.

On July 24, Carthage developer Michael E. Lundy, who promised to pay off the civic group’s $97,000 debt and provide it with a new home, announced that he has purchased the former Nordic Welding company building at 475 VanDuzee St. that will be used for the league’s new, smaller home. In turn, the league will trade its location at 633 Mill St. to Mr. Lundy, who intends to refurbish the VanDuzee Street building for the league. [Read more...]

Entecco unveils energy plan for Watertown manufacturers

The Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency’s board of directors on Thursday learned more about a Rochester energy consultant’s $5.4 million proposal to implement renewable energy sources for manufacturers at the City Center Industrial Park.

Entecco LLC has planned solar, biogas and natural gas energy sources, which would be used by Current Applications, Roth Industries Inc. and Renzi Brothers Inc. to reduce energy costs at the South Bellew Avenue park. In June, the consultant submitted a $4 million grant application on behalf of the agency for New York State Energy Research and Development Authority’s Cleaner, Greener Communities Program. The application also includes a loan request of $1.4 million from the NY Green Bank program needed to finance the project. NYSERDA will announce funding awards in October.

JCIDA paid Entecco $2,000 to submit the grant application. The agency’s board agreed to hire the consultant in April for $7,000 to conduct a preliminary energy study. That study originally was planned for Jefferson County-owned buildings, but the consultant changed its plan after learning a similar study already had been completed by Fourth Coast Inc., Clayton.

Smart-grid technology planned by Entecco is designed to reduce energy costs for manufacturers during times of peak demand, when delivery charges from National Grid are the highest, John Bay, Entecco’s president and COO, said during the meeting. He said technology would enable buildings to tap into energy from solar arrays or natural gas turbine generators during hours in which they use the most energy, which is typically from noon to 5 p.m.

“The idea is to control the peak demand to end up with a more level consumption rate,” Mr. Bay said.

Entecco analyzed the energy consumption of the three manufacturers to estimate their potential cost savings from the project, he said. Current Applications, which pays about 13 cents per kilowatt hour for electricity, would stand to save the most from the technology, he said. Renzi Brothers and Roth Industries, which pay 7 and 11 cents per kilowatt hour, respectively, would benefit less, because their buildings are more energy-efficient. “Renzi has their act together and is already very energy efficient,” Mr. Bay said.

He said manufacturers would each install $5,000 smart meters to accurately gauge their electrical consumption under the plan. Data from smart meters would be collected for a year to determine what energy sources would be used for the best results.

“This particular smart meter can do 400 data points every second — that’s how much data is gathered,” Mr. Bay told the board.

JCIDA board member W. Edward Walldroff advised Mr. Bay that Entecco should be familiar with efforts by Clarkson University to develop a similar energy plan in the village of Potsdam.

“I would stress that what we do here should be in concert with them, and there should be a familiarity with what they’re doing,” he said. “It’s going to take a regional approach to make this happen.”

Donald C. Alexander, CEO of the Jefferson County Local Development Corp., said Entecco plans eventually to collaborate with businesses across the county on similar projects. He said other large businesses, including New York Air Brake, have expressed interest. And JCIDA’s planned business park at Watertown International Airport, off Route 12F in the town of Hounsfield, also has potential to become a hub for renewable energy. “We have three businesses, and we’re going to be able to test this in a number of scenarios to see if it really works or not,” Mr. Alexander told the board. “We’re going to have to make believers of everyone for this to work. And over time, we hope to hear back from more businesses to see what their interest is going to be.”

By Ted Booker, Times Staff Writer

Air Brake to launch safer products as railways carry more crude oil

Lee M. Lafave, special processes operator at New York Air Brake, cleans machine-cast brake control valves in 2011. The Watertown company hopes two new products will help meet a new industry emphasis on train safety. Justin Sorensen / NNY Business

Lee M. Lafave, special processes operator at New York Air Brake, cleans machine-cast brake control valves in 2011. The Watertown company hopes two new products will help meet a new industry emphasis on train safety. Justin Sorensen / NNY Business

Safety rules for railroad carriers have been toughened as trains continue to ship more crude oil — a trend New York Air Brake will capitalize on by launching new locomotive brake products.

The company on Starbuck Avenue plans to unveil two safety products in the next year to meet the industry’s demands, President Michael J. Hawthorne said. It will introduce a safer control valve for air brakes on train cars during the fourth quarter, and during the first half of 2015, it plans to launch an automated parking brake application. Both products are now undergoing field trials. [Read more...]

Neighbors of Watertown plans $9.3M renovation for Brighton Apartments

Neighbors of Watertown Inc. plans to undertake a $9.3 million project to renovate the Brighton Apartments and Empsall Plaza in the city. Amanda Morrison / NNY Business

Neighbors of Watertown Inc. plans to undertake a $9.3 million project to renovate the Brighton Apartments and Empsall Plaza in the city. Amanda Morrison / NNY Business

Plans are underway for $9.3 million in renovations to the Brighton Apartments and Empsall Plaza that will create eight new units, commercial space for the former Velocity space and a main back entrance.

Neighbors of Watertown Inc. is applying for $5.9 million in state affordable housing tax credits to renovate 36 existing apartments on floors three through eight and create eight more units on the second floor. [Read more...]

Plans take shape for corporate park at Watertown airport

Preliminary land studies and blueprints for a business park at Watertown International Airport are expected to be done by this fall, moving the project a step closer to reality.

With planning efforts well underway, land could be ready by next year for the first business to move into the proposed park, said Donald C. Alexander, CEO of the Jefferson County Local Development Corp. [Read more...]

Sonic restaurant in Watertown preparing to open Monday

Crews work Thursday at the site of the new Sonic at City Center Plaza, where paving was delayed by the rain this week. Justin Sorensen / NNY Business

Crews work Thursday at the site of the new Sonic at City Center Plaza, where paving was delayed by the rain this week. Justin Sorensen / NNY Business

Workers were scurrying on Thursday to get the Sonic Drive-In on Arsenal Street ready to open.

With a beehive of activity going on, crews were paving the parking lot in the hope of opening for business Monday, franchise partner Adam Cidzik said. The 2,580-square-foot restaurant sits in City Center Plaza near Interstate 81.

Inside, a contingent of restaurant workers received some last-minute training to make sure they’re ready. [Read more...]