As it turns out, area residents didn't have to worry about the state making a good enough offer to entice saturn petcare to locate in Ashville.
The German company was ready to begin hiring workers when it discovered a fatal flaw in its plan to locate in the former AFA Foods building near Blockville - there wasn't a ready supply of water. The company's best option would have been to pay for an extension of Jamestown Board of Public Utilities water lines from Cummins to the AFA Foods building, but that option was too costly for company officials to move the project forward. Bill Daly, county IDA director, says the county is working on the situation and hoping the Germans will reconsider the AFA Foods building in the future.
It's hard to blame county officials for not knowing about the lack of water on the AFA Foods property. One would have thought either a line had been extended from Cummins or that the property had its own well. Saturn petcare's deal falling through is surely a sign there needs to be additional investigation into vacant industrial parcels so the county knows enough about the sites to market them properly. That is a problem with an easy solution.
The bigger problem behind the fall of the saturn petcare deal isn't as easily solved. In the end, a lack of infrastructure is the reason the town of Harmony is out a major new taxpayer and the area loses out on much-needed manufacturing jobs.
As we have seen in places like Forestville, Cassadaga, Fredonia and areas around Chautauqua Lake, basic sewer and water infrastructure is a pressing need in Chautauqua County for which we have little money. That's why it was so encouraging that County Executive Greg Edwards singled out infrastructure projects in both the north and south county during what turned out to be his final State of the County address.
Upgrading infrastructure is a costly endeavor for the county and an even more daunting task for towns and villages. The bill for the work that needs to be done gets bigger the longer the area's infrastructure needs are put on the back burner. Unfortuantely, infrastructure is far from the hottest of topics, especially at election time when it is much easier to dash off a news release about who should fill IDA board positions or who is to blame for a development falling through than it is to offer a solution to the real issue.
The demise of the saturn petcare project is just the latest example of the area's infrastructure needs rearing their ugly heads.