WAWARSING, NY — A whole new type of grass and up to 400 new jobs will soon be springing up in Ellenville, officials said this week.
On Tuesday, March 15, the Wawarsing Planning Board approved a site plan proposed by Cresco Labs, a Chicago-based national cannabis producer and marketer. Cresco will soon build a marijuana growing, processing, packaging and distribution facility in the former Kora Components building at 11 Aluminum Drive, city supervisor Terry Houck said Friday.
Ellenville Mayor Jeff Kaplan said Cresco still plans to purchase and renovate the former vacant Channel Master and Schrade knife company site on U.S. Route 209 adjacent to Aluminum Drive. Cresco has expanded its original proposal by purchasing the 10-acre Kora property and existing building, Kaplan said. He said negotiations were still ongoing regarding the Channel Master and Schrade sites.
The Kora purchase will allow Cresco to start its cannabis growing business sooner than it had anticipated, Kaplan said. He didn’t know the company’s schedule.
A spokesperson for the company could not be immediately reached on Friday.
Kora is transferring its operations to Liberty, Houck said.
In an emailed statement on Friday, Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan said: “Cresco Labs has taken a critical step in creating what will be one of the greatest economic opportunities we have had. in Ellenville for decades.” The executive said Project Cresco “will transform a site that was once the beating heart of this economy into the economic engine it can and should be – providing well-paying jobs for local residents and placing the county Ulster at the forefront of the rapidly growing cannabis industry.
In an emailed statement, County Economic Development Director Tim Weidermann called the planning board’s approval “a major milestone for an incredibly transformative project that is rapidly moving to shovels into the ground.”
When final approvals, state licenses and funding are secured, Wiedemann said Cresco promised to deliver “400 well-paying jobs (with benefits), over $200 million in investment, and the birth of a major new industry for the Rondout Valley, County of Ulster., and region.
Houck said he hadn’t seen a list of jobs the company expected to create, but he believed they would offer competitive benefits and salaries. He said Cresco employees are “well-treated and well-paid” and this will be the company’s 19th plant and 10th state in which they are setting up shop.
In an August email, a representative from Cresco Labs said the company is “excited about adult use and expanding our footprint in New York State – we know the economic impact that a large-scale cannabis facility can have on a community, and we look forward to continuing to work through the process with Ulster County at the Wawarsing site.
According to the company’s website, Cresco is “on a mission to standardize, professionalize and revolutionize cannabis.” The company, which operates 18 facilities in other states, including a medical cannabis dispensary on Long Island, describes itself as “the most trusted and fastest growing cannabis company in the world.”
At a press conference in August, Ryan said the company should employ local builders and “building partners” to develop the property. He said Cresco used to employ local workers.
New York State legalized recreational marijuana in March 2021, and Ulster County is poised to become “one of the first communities in the state to house a major marijuana distribution facility,” it said. Ryan.
Reached by phone on Friday, Kaplan welcomed the new venture and said he was not concerned about the introduction of a marijuana facility in Wawarsing. “I’ve only heard positive things and we’re very excited about that,” the mayor said.
Kaplan said he’s also not worried about the arrival of a marijuana business in Ellenville or the possible development of cannabis dispensaries and cafes in the village. “No. It’s going to be controlled. I’m more concerned about people drinking than me. [them] consume cannabis. He said the Woodridge Village Police Chief told officials that “people who use cannabis are much less likely to be aggressive and fight than people who drink. He said they had a lot more trouble with bars than with people getting high.
In December, the Ellenville Village Board voted to allow dispensaries and recreational marijuana parlors in the village, and Kaplan said he believed they would encourage growth. “I think this will be a major asset in eliminating the neighborhood dealer and that people who want to use cannabis do not have to go to a dealer who sells heroin, cocaine and cannabis at the same time. ‘ecstasy….Once you start having to go to the illegal drug dealer to begin with, it’s much easier to take the next step.
He said having a few cannabis cafes in Ellenville “will just add to the whole experience that we’re trying to create there of a theater, a row of restaurants, which we’ve already created, and I think it will be a good add-on. And the fact that we have a local village with a local village police department to make sure things are done safely… is going to be a big help.
Wawarsing Town Council has chosen not to allow cafes or cannabis dispensaries outside the village boundaries.