Montgomery residents turned out in force to express their concerns and a crowd of Medline employees expressed their support for a proposed 1.3-million-square-foot Medline Industries distribution center in a packed public hearing on Aug. 13.
Located on the east side of NYS Route 416 and north of Interstate I-84, the warehouse is proposed in the Town of Montgomery, just outside Village of Montgomery limits. The building will replace the outgrown 500,000-square-foot facility in Wawayanda, which employs 320 workers, according to the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS).
Dmitry Dukhan, Vice President of Real Estate for Medline, assured residents the company would be a good neighbor to the Village of Montgomery and a fair employer.
“Medline Industries is a fourth generation, privately held manufacturer and distributor of Medline products and services. We are the largest provider of full-spectrum healthcare services for the full continuum of health care,” Dukhan said. “This project by far is the biggest investment we have ever made in the community.”
Medline plans to create 360 new jobs over a period of seven years, with a total of 700 jobs at full capacity. About 10 jobs will be office related, 50 will be drivers and the rest will be warehouse jobs, according to the DEIS. Dukhan said Medline estimates about 250 new hires will come from the Town of Montgomery and the surrounding area.
The average estimated annual salary of jobs to be created would be $37,000 before bonuses and the annual salary range of jobs to be created is $33,000 to $69,000, according to Medline’s application for assistance with the Town of Montgomery Industrial Development Agency (IDA). With benefits and bonuses, the estimated salaries are $50,000 for production, $77,000 for drivers, and $137,000 for management.
Several Medline employees spoke to express their support for the project, stating they would like to stay in the area rather than move if the company could not find a suitable site in the county.
“I’m very excited about Medline wanting to stay in Montgomery and I’m happy that Medline wants to protect my job and keep me here,” Medline employee Allan Malansun said.
Several union leaders also expressed support for the project, stating the construction will provide hundreds of jobs.
“With regard to construction of the facility, the site work alone could provide my members with thousands of hours of work, which is needed for them to provide for their families,” Business Representative of Local 825 Operating Engineers Tim Muller said.
Several employees also echoed Medline’s claims that the facility in Wawayanda is outgrown. Medline employee Chris Hughes said the lack of space has forced many employees to work more overtime, straining work/life balance.
“Getting a larger building for us is a necessity at this point,” Hughes said.
Despite the support, there were many cords of dissent. New York State Senator James Skoufis chastised the company for seeking a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes (PILOT) that will save the company millions.
“Pay your damn taxes. Anything short of that is irresponsible, offensive and a disgusting display of greed,” Skoufis said.
Medline requested approximately $17.6 million from the IDA for real property tax exemptions over a 15-year PILOT and $8 million in New York State sales tax exemptions. In the first year, the company is projected to make $76.8 million in profits with tax abatements. Without abatments, the company would make $74.8 million in the first year, according to Medline’s IDA application.
Despite the abatement, the DEIS estimates the project will generate $27 million in tax revenue over the life of the PILOT in town, county and school taxes. The abatements cannot be approved or denied until after the project is approved by the planning board.
Of those taxes, the Valley Central School District would receive approximately $2.3 million per year before tax abatements. Valley Central Superintendent of Schools John Xanthis said Medline is also negotiating an additional tax revenue of $300,000 per year for the school outside of regular taxes.
President of the Orange County Partnership Maureen Hallahan praised the project for job creation and tax revenue generation.
“Commercial development is a critical component of our overall health and economic wellbeing. We have to support commercial development to offset our overall costs, especially for our school,” Hallahan said. “We’re asking that you approve the Medline project, which will soon be one of the highest taxpayers in your town and one of your largest employers.”
Many residents protested the project, it will clog the village with traffic, cause negative environmental impacts, be a huge eyesore and ruin village and town residents’ quality of life.
“The taxpayers of the Town of Montgomery believe that something dangerous, painful, or perhaps life threatening will change their current quality of life,” Town of Montgomery resident Thomas Walcott said.
Chief among residents’ concerns was traffic. The DEIS states signs will be installed at the entrance on NYS Route 416, routing trucks away from the village. However trucks will be route through the village in the event of a flood on 416.
Dukhan has suggested the village police department may fine Medline trucks who enter its boundaries. However, at a village board meeting on June 4, Village of Montgomery Mayor Stephen Brescia and village attorney Kevin Dowd expressed doubt that a fine would be enforceable.
The DEIS traffic study predicts 619 new truck and passenger vehicle trips per day at full build out in 2030. The facility will be operational for 20 hours a day, from 3 a.m. to 11 p.m., with three employee shifts.
The DEIS proposed several traffic mitigation techniques, such as widening existing shoulders, adjusting traffic signal times, and installing a traffic light at the Neelytown Road and 416 intersection.
Residents also expressed concerns about environmental impacts, chief among them stormwater impacts and the site’s proximity to the Wallkill River. The site lies in a 100-year and 500-year floodplain, according to the DEIS.
“You get a week of rain what is going to happen? The run-off for one square foot of land with an inch of rain is massive. The Wallkill is going to flood our whole county,” Montgomery resident Chris Caurillo said.
The project includes about 57 acres of impervious surfaces. The stormwater management plan includes two storm forebays, two CDS3 units, two bioretention basins and one stormwater pond; all management features are proposed on the west side of the building, according to the DEIS.
Residents also worried about light, noise and air pollution.
The DEIS states the site will be lighted with 35-foot LED poles, which will be shielded to prevent light from spilling off the site. Construction noise may take place from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Medline hopes to complete construction in just over 12 months, with construction beginning in late 2019 and completed by fall 2020. On that timeline, full operations would begin in June 2021, according to the DEIS.
Several residents called for a moratorium on commercial development as the town updates its 1988 comprehensive plan.
“I think it would be extremely foolhardy to execute such large projects without having a master plan ahead of the game,” Village of Montgomery resident Maria Beltrametti said. “Surely the plan comes before the execution, it’s only the responsible thing to do.”
Despite residents’ concerns, Dukhan said Medline will be a good investment for Montgomery.
“Medline is the company that goes above and beyond for its customers, its employees and its community,” Dukhan said. “We will make you proud and we will always do the right thing.”
Written comment will be accepted until Sept 2. via email to firstname.lastname@example.org or delivered in-person to town hall, 110 Bracken Road, Montgomery. Watch the meeting here.