Plant Owners Default on Deal with City

Watertown Daily Times

A satellite view of the Ahava plant.

OGDENSBURG, NY — The new owners of a kosher cheese plant here have defaulted on a rent-purchase agreement with the city, according to City Manager Arthur J. Sciorra.

Toobro LLC and the 30 Main St. plant’s former owner, Ahava of California — both based in Brooklyn — are locked in a dispute involving a kosher facility in Lowville that has shut down the Ogdensburg plant for the second time this year and left its estimated 60 workers unpaid for two weeks.

Both the Toobro and Ahava offices were closed Saturday and no one was available for comment. But Mr. Sciorra said Toobro hasn’t held up its end of an agreement he negotiated earlier this year with owners Menachem and Schneur Bistritzky.

The agreement, which was approved by the City Council, called for Toobro to buy the plant for $900,000. The deal framed by Mr. Sciorra and the Bistritzky brothers was designed so the city could recoup $700,000 in back taxes and utility charges it was owed by Ahava.

Under the terms of the sale, Toobro was to make a $125,000 down payment to the city and pay rent of $12,000 a month until the June 1, 2010, closing and the $775,000 balance was paid. By figuring in the 13 months of rent, the sale was going to net the city a total of $1,056,000.

But Mr. Sciorra said Saturday that the down payment was never made and, so far, Toobro has paid $25,000 to the city.

“A small amount,” he said.

He has attempted to contact Toobro executives, but said his telephone calls and e-mails have gone unanswered.

“It doesn’t look good,” Mr. Sciorra said, adding that he feels especially bad for the suddenly furloughed Ogdensburg plant workers.

“They must get paid,” he said.

Mr. Sciorra also said he isn’t about to let the city get bogged down in another episode of late taxes, unpaid utilities and threats of closing with the troubled plant.

“I’m not going to, my council isn’t going to get dragged into this heavy debt again,” the city manager said.

Related Articles:
Deal to Sell Ahava Plant Reached
Council Finalizes Deal to Sell Defunct Ahava Plant
Ahava Food Company Reacquired by New Owners

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