Hi-Lite considers multiple possibilities for new location; Sackets Harbor not its final choice

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By MARCUS WOLF

mwolf@wdt.net

ADAMS CENTER — Hi-Lite Airfield Services’s plan to move its corporate headquarters to Sackets Harbor isn’t a sealed deal as company officials continue evaluating other sites.

“We’re committed to staying in Jefferson County,” said Hi-Lite CFO Theodore Misiewicz. “We want to be here.”

The worldwide airfield services provider announced plans to reopen its headquarters, currently at 18249 Hi-Lite Drive, in the former Augsbury Oil Co. property in Sackets Harbor in November, a move that was expected to bring 40 “white collar” professional jobs.

The proposed $5 million to $6 million facility, which is expected to have a 280-seat conference center and a training area, is still on the table, but Mr. Misiewicz said the company experienced obstacles with the 14.5-acre site on outer Ambrose Street such as a delay in environmental testing, which was caused by the ground freezing at the site last fall.

The company would also need to finance the necessary infrastructure to connect its proposed headquarters, which Mr. Misiewicz said would be built further back in the property away from Ambrose Street, to the water and sewer lines and electric wires at the road.

“We thought we were very close to an agreement,” during the announcement, Mr. Misiewicz said. “We have not been able to get a definite answer on how the village can help us,”

Hi-Lite officials met with Sackets Harbor Mayor Molly C. Reilly, the Sackets Harbor Local Development Corp. and Assemblywoman Addie A.E. Jenne, D-Theresa, in December.

During the meeting, Mrs. Reilly said she offered to explore grant funding opportunities for water and sewer upgrades to assist the company, the village and other development opportunities at the Augsbury site. The mayor said she hasn’t received any further communications from the company since that meeting.

“The village is interested in working with the LDC to do improvements (to the Augsbury site) regardless of who the purchaser might be,” she said.

With a few challenges posed to them at the Sackets Harbor site, Hi-Lite has decided to keep its options open and continue evaluating other locations for its new headquarters.

The new headquarters is still expected to house 40 workers, no matter what the company decides for its location.

“We’re growing,” Mr. Misiewicz said.

Hi-Lite previously planned to move into the Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency’s proposed Business Complex at Watertown International, a move it continues to consider.

The Regional Economic Development Council awarded the airfield services provider $1.275 million for a new headquarters in the proposed park, which will be adjacent to the Watertown International Airport on Route 12F, but Mr. Misiewicz said Empire State Development reduced the award to $600,000 after the company announced plans to relocate to Sackets Harbor.

The company has also considered moving into the former Packaging Corp. of America facility on Old Rome Road, which shuttered its doors in September. Mr. Misiewicz said he liked the site’s accessibility, although the company hasn’t been able to evaluate its infrastructure availability at this time.

“Those are where our focus is at this point,” he said. “There are other locations where I don’t want to disclose at this point.”

Company president John McNeely, a Sackets Harbor resident, previously planned to break ground on a Sackets Harbor headquarters this month and complete it by the end of the year.

Hi-Lite has a fleet maintenance facility on Route 12F and offices in Texas, Florida, Virginia, Atlanta, Puerto Rico and the United Arab Emirates.

“We’re still very excited about the possibility of (Hi-Lite) locating its headquarters to Sackets Harbor and we’ll do everything we can to make it happen,” Sackets Harbor Local Development Corp. President Donald L. DiMonda said. “This would be a transformational event to this community.”

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