ONEONTA — The Oneonta Town Board authorized the submission of a pre-application for a meat processing plant in the Oneonta Business Park at its February meeting Wednesday night.
Project partners are requesting the town's support of a $180,000 Community Development Block Grant to help them establish the meat processing facility. The facility will be known as Catskills Packing LLC, according to Tom DeBoer, who along with Serkan Cambudak, will be a co-manager. The animals will be slaughtered in accordance with Islamic Halal practices.
Project partner Phoebe Schreiner, executive director of the Center for Agricultural Development and Entrepreneurship in Oneonta, spoke about what the project would bring to the community. She said the majority of farms in the area are dairy producers, but bulls or culled cows can be used for meat production.
"One of the challenges our livestock producers face, more than anything else, is getting their product to market because they don't have enough meat processing facilities," Schreiner said.
She said livestock producers often have to drive four hours into Pennsylvania to process their meat or be on a one to two year waiting list for the limited meat processing facilities in the area.
"What we're applying for, $180,000, is $15,000 for 12 jobs, which is what we're projecting to do within three years," Project partner Hans Cambudak said.
He said he'd be willing to sign a guarantee that the project partners would pay any money back to the town if they failed to produce this number of jobs.
Schreiner assured the board that the animals would be processed and treated in the most humane way possible. Hans said he has consulted with world-renowned autism speaker and animal behavior expert Temple Grandin on this. Grandin has designed systems for humane livestock handling meant to reduce the pain and stress the animals go through.
"There's no question that their engineer and designer is working off of her standard," Schreiner said.
Otsego Now CEO Jody Zakrevsky explained that the pre-application would entail, which would be a budget, a narrative and how many jobs would get created. This would get submitted to the Office of Community Renewal and if approved, will go to the Town Board to develop the full application. The project received $200,000 as part of the Regional Economic Development Council initiative in December. Zakrevsky said the Office of Community Renewal stated that all other financing needed to be in place before applying for a Community Development Block Grant. This is why Otsego Now applied for the Regional Economic Development Council grant first, he said.
"It sounds like a really worthwhile project I'd be very proud to support," Town Supervisor Robert Wood said.
In other town business, the board:
• Announced the award of a contract for Southside Water District water wells to Layne/Granite for $312,200.
• Released bid documents for Southside Water District piping.
• Reported that LED street light conversion for all of the town's streetlights is nearly complete. In areas where the conversion has already, happened, Wood said light bills have dropped about 60%. He said the $19,000 conversion project will hopefully pay itself back within nine months.
Shweta Karikehalli, staff writer, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 607-441-7221. Follow her @DS_ShwetaK on Twitter.