Bids to purchase part or all of 7,000 acres were due yesterday.
The Seneca County Industrial Development Agency has received 16 bids for the sale of some 7,000 remaining acres of the former Seneca Army Depot.
“The initial review process is now underway and is expected to take several weeks,” the IDA said in a release. “A joint committee comprised of members of the Seneca County Board of Supervisors and the IDA board will convene as early as next week to begin reviewing bids in more detail.
“The IDA intends that bids shall remain confidential until a winning bid (or bids) is selected and approved by the Seneca County IDA board.”
One of the bidders was Seneca White Deer Inc., which last month announced its joint bid with the town of Varick. Regarding that bid, Seneca White Deer President Money said Tuesday he feels Seneca White Deer “submitted an excellent business plan. We did our homework well. We may be the underdogs financially but we are the top dogs when it comes to professionalism, experience at the depot, and a management team to perpetuate the white deer. Hopefully, quality will trump quantity.”
Money added that Heron Hill Winery owners, John and Josephine Ingle, have again extended their fundraising campaign to match $200,000. Money said Seneca White Deer is nearly halfway to reaching its $200,000 match. That would put $400,000 toward efforts to transform the former depot into an ecotourism center focused on wildlife conservation and drawing visitors.
The town of Varick covers 3,030 acres of the former depot. Varick Town Supervisor Robert “Bob” Hayssen announced the partnership with White Deer last month that involves the town and nonprofit working together to develop a white deer preserve on part of the town’s 3,030 acres as part of the long-range vision to create a white deer brand to boost the local economy through tourism.
IDA Executive Director Bob Aronson stated in Tuesday’s release: “We will review each and every bid in order to give them due consideration.”
“Meetings of the joint committee are public, however most of the discussions regarding the bids are expected to take place in executive session, as publicity regarding the details of the bids would substantially affect the value of Depot property.”
“The IDA decided to sell the Depot’s remaining acreage for two main reasons. First, the Army’s environmental clean-up is expected to be completed in 2016 and the Army’s caretaker responsibilities are coming to an end. As a result, the IDA cannot afford to take on these caretaker responsibilities, such as property management, security, fence repair and maintenance, mowing, and wildlife management. The IDA is also eager to see the Depot returned to the tax rolls, increasing Seneca County’s tax base and serving as an economic asset.”
“As part of the open bidding process, the IDA held a public information meeting on Nov. 7 in Romulus. The IDA then held a meeting and Depot tour on Dec. 15 for prospective buyers only and distributed the bid documents to them. Additional prospective bidders contacted the IDA throughout the nearly 11-week process.”
The IDA opened the bidding Dec.15. It closed Feb. 29.