AVON — The quarter mile Tec Drive Road extension, a project of the Livingston County Industrial Development Agency (LCIDA), has been a series of pot holes since being signed into contract, as the one-year past-due date for the project’s completion approaches.
The tangled history of the project began on Dec 6, 2013 when Tec Drive Associates, owned by Dom Genova, purchased five acres of land from the LCIDA. In the deal, the LCIDA agreed to complete some development of the property, specifically a quarter mile of road and utility extensions, by June 30, 2014. Terms of the deal also specified that Tec Drive Associates would place the purchase price, $150,000, in escrow pending completion of the development work by the June 30, deadline. Under the terms of the contract, which were obtained by the GeneseeSun.com, Tec Drive Associates can remove that money if the LCIDA fails to meet the terms of the contract.
According to Julie Marshall, Livingston County Industrial Development Agency Director, the plan is for the project to be completed using $412,500 of LCIDA funds and $412,500 in matching funds from a U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) grant. The application for the grant was submitted in March 2014, about four months after the purchase agreement was signed. Marshall estimated the cost to complete the quarter mile stretch of roadway development to be $825,000. Senator Chuck Schumer announced the award of the grant in a press release four months later, in July 2014.
“I don’t have an anticipated completion date of the road,” said Julie Marshall Livingston County Industrial Development Agency. “When you use federal funds to undertake projects it takes time; it slows down projects.”
Last year, after being notified of the project, the Town of Avon Highway Department submitted a bid for completing the project for a total of $485,000. The bid was denied by the EDA, however, because the Town of Avon doesn’t meet key federal requirements for the grant, namely that the Town does not pay its workers prevailing wages, and the Town obtains its materials without paying taxes, or below cost.
“It’s my understanding that with the federal funds involved that the builder of the road had to be a private entity that paid prevailing wage.” said David LeFeber, Town of Avon Supervisor. “We had it in our budget for 2015 and we planned on building the road at that time. Then the EDA said the Town could not build the road.”
According to Marshall, the delay in the road being built is the fault of the Economical Development Agency (EDA) and the slow processing of paperwork. Previously lawyers representing the LCIDA blamed the delay on high ranking politicians seeking a photo opportunity, and stated that Sen. Schumer and Congressman Chris Collins would not release the funds until they could arrange an appropriate press announcement.
“To argue that in order for grants to be released politicians need to publicly announce them defies common-sense and is completely ridiculous.” stated Michael McAdams, Congressman Collins’ Communications Director.
In January of 2015 Ian Coyle, Livingston County Administrator, told the GenseeSun.com that the IDA would break ground as soon as the weather breaks. Spring weather is definitely here, but the LCIDA has yet to award the bid to any contractor, and Marshall is unwilling to commit to a timeline. Marshall did state that the winning bidder of the project would be announced on June 12, 2015, which is 30 days after the deadline for new bids.
One of the complications in the case is that the LCIDA accepted the land purchase contract without yet being awarded the grant funding from the EDA. Marshall stated that they were in fact awarded a USDA grant as well as the EDA grant, but the EDA grant was larger.
“We sent out multiple applications for grant funding after we signed the contract for purchase,” said Marshall. “I had a very good hunch we would be awarded the grant,” referring to the EDA Grant.
When asked about the potential loss of tax revenue resulting from the delay in the project, Marshall disputed the possibility. “The IDA isn’t owned by anybody, it’s a public benefit corporation,” she said.
According to the terms of the agreement, Genova and Tec Drive Associates can withdraw their $150,000, currently being held in escrow, as the LCIDA has failed to meet the specified deadline for completion of the work. Marshall was adamant that if Genova were to withdraw his funds from the escrow account, and take back the money, the county would take back the land.
“We don’t give away free land,” said Marshall. “That doesn’t happen.”
However, the deed has already been transferred to Tec Drive Associates, who is now the legal owner of the property.
Meanwhile, Genova, who was planning to build an auto repair facility on the property, has to wait before he can begin construction. The delays in construction, and in opening of any businesses on the property, could translate to significant losses in potential jobs and tax revenue for the Town of Avon.
I started my business 21 years ago with 6 employees and was immediately and warmly welcomed into Livingston County. We have now grown to employ 70 people and I would like to employ more. We try to be an asset to the community.
“I have had past dealings with the IDA and all went well. This latest deal is very frustrating, perplexing and not at all what I experienced in the past. As far as the substantial and drawn-out issues with the promised road and utilities that were part of my 2013 land purchase contract, I’ll just let the facts speak for themselves,” said Genova. “As far as the County’s threat to take back land I already own and have title to, all I’ll say is that it’s not the way I believe things work at least not in this country. I will also let that statement from them stand on it’s own, and let people draw their own conclusions about what it tells them.”
PHOTO CAPTION: The slowest moving project in Livingston county, Tec Drive. (Drone Footage/ Alan Cole)