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Residents split on proposed warehouse distribution facility in Clay

Tom Magnarelli
WRVO Public Media
A public hearing at Liverpool High School.

Residents in the village of Liverpool and the town of Clay spoke at a public hearing Monday night, in favor of, against and had concerns with a proposal to build a massive warehouse distribution center in Clay. The 3.8 million square foot facility could bring 1,000 jobs to the area. 

Some residents, like Gary Piontkowski of Liverpool, want to know what company will be using the facility, as Trammell Crow, the developer, won’t say. The assumption is Amazon, as Trammel has previously developed property for them. Piontkowski said Amazon has a bad track record and there’s not a demand for non-skilled warehouse jobs in Onondaga County.

“We’re doing good," Piontkowski said. "Our fire departments, our schools, our DPW’s, everything, are paved in gold. We’re not in need. We’re not a desperate community to bring down our way of life.”

John Kowalski of Liverpool, said recent news articles have highlighted awful working conditions for Amazon distribution employees. Wages start at $30,000 annually.

“These are not the jobs central New Yorkers deserve, and they’re not the jobs local politicians should be proud for bringing to the area,” Kowalski said.  

Another concern is that the trucks that would be coming in and out of the facility, which is estimated at 10-20 trucks per hour, will increase overall traffic and damage roads.  

But some residents spoke in favor of the proposal, like Tom Ogden of Liverpool, who said the $28 million dollars in tax revenue over 15 years, will help schools. And he said the jobs, with some estimated salaries at $50,000 annually, will create a better standard of living.

“If you’re not working, you certainly have the opportunity to get a job," Ogden said. "If you are working, you certainly may have the opportunity to improve your working status with with a little bit better paying job.”

Michele Cain of Clay, called it a great opportunity, and said it would be foolish to refuse it.

“Carrier left, Chrysler left, everybody’s left," Cain said. "We have no manufacturing, barely in this state, never mind this town. We’re just hurting ourselves. I understand you want to live in a smaller town where it’s nice and neat and clean, but you have to bring in business to live.”

More public hearings may be needed. The Town of Clay needs to change the zoning of the property, to move the project forward. The Onondaga County Industrial Development Agency also needs to approve the project. 

Tom Magnarelli is a reporter covering the central New York and Syracuse area. He joined WRVO as a freelance reporter in 2012 while a student at Syracuse University and was hired full time in 2015. He has reported extensively on politics, education, arts and culture and other issues around central New York.