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Area Officials Hail Opening Of Dunkirk Freezer Facility | News, Sports, Jobs

OBSERVER Photos by M.J. Stafford
Local officials and Americold executives cut the ribbon on the company’s new cold storage facility in the town of Dunkirk Tuesday.

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It’s the biggest freezer you can imagine, and it added 60 new jobs to the area.

That about sums up the 181,000-square-foot Americold cold storage facility now operating in the town of Dunkirk on Williams Street Extension. A ribbon cutting for the facility was held Tuesday morning.

Ethan McCarver, senior project manager for Americold, gave a private tour before the ribbon cutting. He pointed out the 42 spaces available for trucks to load and unload, near an area where Americold workers can gather up product for customers to transport.

The freezer, which takes up most of the facility, is split into two sections. The area where products are normally stored is minus 20 degrees Fahrenheit. When they are ready for transport, the items get moved closer to the truck ports, next door into a room that is a balmy 34 degrees.

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“We’ve probably got one of the largest freezers in New York,” said Americold’s Steven O’Sullivan.

An overall view of the new Americold facility.

He added that the plant has 25,000 “pallet positions,” basically spaces for products. “That’s a lot of ice cream, to be honest with you,” he said.

O’Sullivan offered another interesting tidbit: The company wants to reopen the nearby railroad line “in the near future” so it can take in rail cars.

The ribbon cutting also featured remarks by several local officials.

“They’ve provided storage space and enabled another business to expand its operations,” said County Executive PJ Wendel, referring to nearby Wells Ice Cream in the city of Dunkirk. The company will provide most of the Americold facility’s business, though McCarver stressed it is a public warehouse open to all customers who need cold storage.

Mark Geise, who heads up the Chautauqua County Industrial Development Agency, said the facility was significant not only as a job creator, but as what is essentially a $40 million investment in Wells.

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“It helps to signify Wells putting another stake in the ground,” Geise said. “It’s not like they bought (their factory, the former Fieldbrook Farms) and are gonna flip it. They are here to stay.”

City of Dunkirk Mayor Wilfred Rosas said the new facility was originally supposed to happen in his jurisdiction but got moved into the town.

“My first reaction, although I was disappointed, was to go public and support it,” he said. That’s because, Rosas continued, he knew it would have a huge positive impact on his community and on Wells, which is within the city boundary.

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McCarver said the plant opened for business May 15. Plenty of ice cream was already visible in the minus 20 degree room.

The large building, very conspicuous in a former empty field visible from Route 60, took less than a year to construct. The official groundbreaking for it was June 6, 2021.

A little while after the ribbon cutting, Americold partnered with Feed the Children and United Way to offer a food giveaway for 300 needy families on Washington Avenue in the city. Both Americold officials and local politicians repeatedly talked up the company Tuesday as one that is committed to helping the communities they do business in.

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