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Seneca White Deer turns down aid offer, ensuring closure at end of month

SWD turns down $50,000 in financial assistance after negotiations with Martin fail

– By Josh Durso

Seneca White Deer President Dennis Money has turned down the County’s offer to help Seneca White Deer, Inc. keep the not for profit tour operation going into 2020.

Earlier in the month, Money announced that the organization would have to end tours in late-December, due to cost of doing business with property owner Earl Martin.

While lower ‘lease agreements’ had been verbally promised – Martin only recently lowered rent from $10,000 down to $8,450.

Money says it was still significantly higher than he anticipated would be feasible to keep the business moving. He noted a variety of costs as being a driving factor behind the decision. However, leasing the property cost 50% of SWD’s annual gross revenue.

“It’s economics 101,” he said at a meeting of the Board of Supervisors last week. “Those costs – for rent or leases or whatever – shouldn’t exceed 8-10% if a business is going to be successful. In this case, it’s significantly higher than that.”

While multiple supervisors agreed that Money’s organization was set up to fail at the former Seneca Army Depot – it won’t change the outcome. The supervisors offered $50,000 in assistance. However, due to Martin’s unwillingness to modify the lease agreement between himself and Seneca White Deer, Inc. – Money says he can’t accept.

Martin, who also filed with the federal government to take the name and likeness of the not for profit Seneca White Deer organization on December 2nd, says tours will continue. He filed that claim weeks before Seneca White Deer announced that they would be ending tours.

That was another aspect of the dilemma that made some supervisors uncomfortable. “This doesn’t pass the smell test,” Supervisor Paul Kronenwetter (R-Seneca Falls) said on Tuesday. “I don’t like how this played out.”

Supervisor Cindy Lorenzetti (D-Fayette) agreed. “There’s got to be something we can do to make this right. This happened on our watch,” she said at the time.

It’s unclear what the next steps will be in the process, now that the supervisors have a resolution before them to extend $50,000 in financial assistance to the disappearing organization at a special meeting scheduled for December 26th.

Josh Durso is a lifelong resident of the Finger Lakes. When not overseeing the newsroom he’s hosting Inside the FLX: A weekly program on FL1 Radio. Check out the podcast by clicking here, or by visiting Follow him on Twitter at @FLXJosh, or say hello by clicking here.

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