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Local officials waiting to hear about Jain Irrigation project

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It’s a waiting game for Watertown Trust officials to hear whether Jain Irrigation Inc. will build a new $10 million facility that would occupy the last remaining unoccupied land in the City Center Industrial Park.

Donald W. Rutherford, the CEO of Watertown Local Development Corp., also known as the Watertown Trust, said Jain Irrigation’s decision-makers in India are looking at the feasibility of building the 80,000- to 100,000-square-foot plant.

The company’s board of directors will decide whether to pursue the new plant that would replace its cramped Water Street facility.

Mr. Rutherford remains optimistic.

“It’s really up to them at this point,” Mr. Rutherford said.

He added that he continues to meet with local representatives of the manufacturer of drip irrigation products about the proposed project.

They are putting together more definitive cost estimates on the project, while corporate folks continue their perusal, he said.

Local officials had hoped to hear in late August whether the project was a go.

Current plans call for the company to own the building on the wooded site — consisting of lots 9, 10 and possibly 11 — off South Bellew Avenue, behind Current Applications and adjacent to the Metro-Jefferson Public Safety Building.

Previously, there was some discussion about the Watertown Trust leasing it to Jain. A developer would construct the building.

If the company proceeds with the project, its local workforce would increase to about 120 employees, with plans to add three product lines.

The project first came up publicly at June’s WLDC meeting when Mr. Rutherford said an unidentified local company was considering a 100,000-square-foot warehouse in the industrial park.

Carson D. Lennox, general manager of the Watertown plant, could not be reached for comment Monday.

The project depends on providing a rail switch and moving a rail line at the industrial park to run alongside the warehouse.

Local economic development officials are working with CSX and Empire State Development, the state’s economic development agency, on the rail line aspect of the project, Mr. Rutherford said.

Jain Irrigation bought Chapin Watermatics in May 2006. Jain Irrigation, Fresno, Calif., is a subsidiary of Jain Irrigation Systems Ltd., Jalgaon, India.

Chapin Watermatics founder Richard D. Chapin invented drip irrigation.

He created his first irrigation system, a “Watermatic,” because he was growing flowers and wanted to find a way to avoid walking through the greenhouse to water thousands of plants individually.

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