SILVER CREEK – Village officials caught a glimmer of hope Thursday that the Petri Baking Co. factory may be used by another company in the future.
William Daly, of the Chautauqua County Planning Department and the county Industrial Development Agency, told officials that he has met with several people who are interested in the property.
Daly, speaking at an informational session with Mayor Nick Piccolo and Trustee Warren Kelly, said the IDA had good luck with a bargain sale and resale of the former RemTronic Building in Silver Creek, which was vacated and then renovated into the headquarters for Excelco-Newbrook.
Earlier this year, Petri announced it will close its Silver Creek baking plant, laying off about 250 full-time employees. The news came after the business was purchased by ConAgra, a global food producer. The layoff date has been extended several times. This week, employees were encouraged to attend local job fairs to help them seek new employment.
Piccolo said part of the problem with finding jobs for the Petri employees is that many of them walked to work and would find it difficult to get transportation to job sites farther away. Daly said he was aware of the local workforce issues and hoped that some type of manufacturing or production business could be brought to the Petri site to keep local employees working.
The Petri company had grown in recent years from about 100 employees in 2010 to 250. It was acquired by ConAgra, which has cookie production facilities in other states.
Daly said he hoped ConAgra would agree to the idea of a bargain sale of the Silver Creek factory to the IDA and that buyers would be given the opportunity to get the factory running without much of a delay.
In other matters, there was an extensive conversation on the future of the former Seegert Dairy building on Buffalo Street. The vacant building has been partially demolished and has been listed as an unsafe area by the local building inspector.
Two neighbors of the property asked Daly and his staff to look into options that may help clean it up. Piccolo said the Village Board wants to encourage cleanup of the site. He said the board wants to return the property to the tax rolls.
Daly said he believes that the property was foreclosed upon, but no one has taken ownership of the deed.
Linda Fryberger and David Clark, who live near the property, said they would like to see the building removed and the land divided among neighbors who could maintain it.
There have been complaints about rodents and contaminants at the site.
Daly encouraged Piccolo to look for funding to help with cleanup and said his staff will assist with research on the history of the site as well as potential funding for the removal of the building.