WATERLOO — As of April 1, the Seneca County Industrial Development Agency will be responsible for the maintenance of 15 buildings and 172 acres of the former Hillside Children’s Center on Route 96 in Varick.
“That will be a challenge, but we have to do it until we can find a new user for the campus,” IDA Board of Directors President Steve Brusso said at Thursday’s IDA board meeting.
It was announced last year that Hillside, a Rochester-based residential treatment center for children with behavioral issues, was going to close its Varick campus by the end of 2019. Hillside officials said they would honor their lease with the IDA until its March 31 expiration.
Brusso said the campus, located on the former Seneca Army Depot, consists of eight buildings constructed in the 1950s and seven that were added in the 1970s and ’80s. The Army built the facilities for troops barracks, bachelor-officer quarters, a mess hall, theater, offices, and recreation facilities.
When the Army announced the in the late 1990s the depot was being closed, it was agreed the 10,587-acre property would be transferred to the IDA for redevelopment. In April 2000, 172 acres at the northern end were leased to KidsPeace, a residential treatment center for children. That lease was taken over by Hillside in 2004.
“Hillside will maintain the property and buildings until the end of March when the lease expires. Then it will come back to the IDA,” Brusso said. “The cost of maintaining those aging buildings was a reason why Hillside decided to consolidate its program elsewhere.
“We will be responsible April 1. We have hired Fisher Associates to do a thorough survey and analysis of the property, including estimated costs of maintenance and repairs.”
Brusso said that report should be done in a month. It will list costs for ongoing maintenance, plus expenses any new user may face after taking over the facilities.
The county has been decommissioned the wastewater treatment plant on the property that serves Hillside and First Light Technology. A new user will have to reopen that facility, build a new plant, or install a new, large septic system.
In other action Thursday:
• AGRONOMICS — The board voted 7-0 to approve an initial resolution of support for financial incentives to Finger Lakes Agronomics, a fertilizer and seed company that will build new facilities at IDA-owned Deer Run Corporate Park in Seneca Falls.
Owner James Saik bought 10 acres of land from the IDA, with plans to construct a rail spur to connect to a line that runs through the rear of the property. Saik is seeking a PILOT agreement and an exemption from paying the mortgage-recording tax. He wants the IDA to have a leaseholder interest in the property to allow those incentives to be implemented.
The approval allows the IDA to schedule a mandatory public hearing in Seneca Falls prior to considering a final vote on the incentive. The IDA must also conduct a State Environmental Quality Review and a cost-benefits analysis.
• OFFICERS — Brusso, a Waterloo resident, was re-elected president of the nine-member IDA board; Valerie Bassett of Interlaken was named vice-president; Steve Wadhams of Junius was selected as secretary; and Erica Paolicelli of Fayette was chosen as treasurer.
• SEARCH — There have been 14 applications from those interested in becoming executive director, a position vacated by the December retirement of Bob Aronson. The deadline to apply is Jan. 17.
A committee of three IDA board members and two members of the county Board of Supervisors will select a group of finalists and schedule interviews that will lead to a recommendation for hiring Aronson’s successor, possibly in March.