The winning bidder for the former Seneca Army Depot in New York’s Finger Lakes District will use the 7,000-acre site to expand his manufacturing operations while also preserving the herd of white deer that roam the site, the Seneca County Industrial Development Agency (IDA) announced last month.
“The idea is to create tourism and wildlife conservation in the northern part of the depot and develop businesses in the southern portion,” said IDA Executive Director Bob Aronson.
Earl Martin’s winning $900,000 bid includes plans to move his ironworks business which manufactures farm equipment from Fayette, Seneca County, to a new facility on the south end of the depot property, creating 200 jobs over the next 10 years. Martin plans to invest $13 million to relocate his business, which makes stalls, gates and other equipment used by dairy farms, reported the Democrat & Chronicle. He also plans to establish about 20 Amish homesteads.
“Our plans will enable Seneca Iron Works to continue growing, and will pave the way for additional industrial, agricultural and tourism development over the next 10 years,” Martin said. Martin’s bid was the third highest of 16 bids the IDA received in February.
Over the past month, Martin has outlined a number of steps he has taken to preserve the herd of about 75 rare white deer at the property so that about 1,500 acres of the site can be turned into a wildlife preserve and ecotourism park. He has planted soybeans to enhance the food supply and is planning to add additional security to reduce recent vandalism, including fence-cutting incidents.
Martin’s plan to preserve the dwindling white deer herd was considered key to the IDA’s decision to accept his bid, reported the Finger Lakes Times.
He is working with a nonprofit on the wildlife park, which would offer tours and cover the depot’s history as a Cold War storage site for bombs and ammunition. “We’re hoping maybe in 2017 it will be opened to the general population,” said Dennis Money, founder of Seneca White Deer, reported Stars and Stripes.
Transfer of the property from IDA to Martin is expected by the end of the year, following a state Environmental Quality Review Act process, according to the agency.