March 03, 2010

Schumer, Gillibrand Urge NYSEG, NY Public Service Commission To Recommit And Make Much Needed Improvements To Former Seneca Army Depot; Effort Will Continue Former Depot’s Progress Towards Economic Revitilization, Create Jobs

Seneca County Based Development Agency Has Worked to Revitalize former Depot for a Decade; Progress is Close, but More Help Needed

Today, U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kristen Gillibrand announced that they have written a personal letter to the New York State Public Service Commission (PSC) and the New York State Electric and Gas Corporation (NYSEG) urging them to do all they can to make improvements to the former Seneca Army Depot, which is now operated by the Seneca County Industrial Development Agency (SCIDA). SCIDA has asked the New York Public Service Commission and NYSEG to make electrical improvements to the facility so that the former Depot can continue the path toward becoming an economic hub of job growth and local development. Recently, NESEG has backed away from the project, putting it in jeopardy.

“The PSC and NYSEG must be full partners in the effort to turn the Seneca Army Depot into a hum of economic activity. With the proper tools and power, redeveloping the former depot presents an incredible economic opportunity for the entire region,” said Schumer. “By committing to help out, the PSC and NYSEG can help us clear a critical hurdle on our way to using the depot to its full potential.”

“If we’re going to rebuild our economy and create new jobs in Seneca County, we need to redevelop the Army Depot,” Senator Gillibrand said. “I’ve introduced legislation that would give communities the resources they need refurbish former military facilities, and I am hopeful that the PSC and NYSEG will join us in this effort so we can continue growing the local economy.”

The Seneca Army Depot is an 11,000-acre base situated between Cayuga and Seneca Lakes that at its peak in the 1950s employed over 3,000 civilians. It was used for storage and disposal from 1941 through 1995, when it was listed in the Base Realignment and Closure program, and was formally shut down September 30, 2000, when it was designated to be developed for private use. After the base was closed, it was transferred to the Seneca County Industrial Development Agency, which in turn leased it to the Seneca County Development Corporation for private development.  Since 2000, a number of private and non-profit companies have established residency at the base but the dilapidated buildings and lack of infrastructure has limited the base’s ability to attract more businesses to the area.

Schumer and Gillibrand have long noted that the base has made significant progress in the last decade, removing some dilapidated buildings and attracting The Advantage Group, which set up a warehousing and inventory operation there. However, all acknowledge that more needs to be done to make this great economic asset work better for the region. Many of the buildings are still in disrepair, old army munitions bunkers litter the area, and there is a lack of power infrastructure. The ability to harness more electrical power at the depot could bring this regional economic asset to life.

Only with increased resources and access to power, will the depot reach its potential as an economic powerhouse in the region. The depot has the potential to employ thousands of quality jobs due to surrounding research universities like Cornell, RIT and U of R. Furthermore, bringing power infrastructure to the base would help attract private and public buildings to the industrial site. Partnering with these high powered research universities and blessed with a highly-educated work force, the depot stands ready to capitalize on 21st century development of clean energy and high tech jobs.

Currently, SCIDA is seeking upgrades to the facility with the assistance of NYSEG and the New York Public Service Commission. Just a short time ago, SCIDA received a $1.5M Restore New York Grant and coupled it with $752,000 in additional funding that would cover 50% of the cost of electrical upgrades at the former depot. Just a year ago, NYSEG ostensibly withdrew from the project and this withdrawal has put the Restore New York Grant and the entire project in jeopardy.

Today, Schumer and Gillibrand urged NYSEG and the New York Public Service Commission to recommit to this project deliver funding and help the area become a hub of economic growth that creates jobs for the entire region.