Local leader says paperwork backs up his concerns about AIM Photonics

(WHAM photo)

ROCHESTER, NY (WHAM) - Gates Town Supervisor Mark Assini is raising new questions about the state tax dollars used to put a national photonics facility on Lake Avenue.

The state said the AIM Photonics projects will bring an economic boost to the area. However, Assini is questioning how state dollars used to build it are being used.

His questions begin with the building choice.

He is also questioning the transparency of people involved in this project. He showed 13WHAM paperwork to back up his concerns.

"What is for certain is that that sight was chosen based on the sight selector's recommendation that was grossly inaccurate and flawed - there was cheaper sites, based on the site selector's own report, that they could have gone to," he said.

Assini questions the site selector's report, where it outlines Lake Avenue as the most cost-efficient selection at $1.3 million to for the project.

"The question is, was it gross incompetence or was it fraud?" he said.

He said those numbers were wrong and that he has paperwork to back up the claim.

"That was the reason the photonics board approved going downtown, was because of the site selector's recommendation. Turns out it was $28 million, not a little over a million," he said.

Regional Director of the Empire State Cooperation Vincent Esposito said there's a reason for the discrepancy.

"The initial responses from a lot of entities that you have on that chart were lower than they wound up being because they didn't fully appreciate the intricacies that were involved in putting hundreds of pieces of equipment and tools at this level of sophistication," he explained.

He said when they did the site survey, it would have cost more to renovate the clean rooms at Canal Ponds Park in Greece.

Assini confirms the clean rooms have been stripped. Now, he questions what will happen to the empty space he said is owned by the state.

"The Canal Ponds facility is still being explored for potential uses. I am sure and very confident that a beautiful building like that in a great location is going to have a useful life," Esposito said.

The state has said AIM Photonics will bring high tech jobs and economic development.

However, Assini is wary of those claims much like he was the decision to locate the facility on Lake Avenue.

"There may be some [jobs] for people that would be working in the building. But there's not going to be 6,000 jobs. This is not a job creator. This is not an economic engine. It's a research and development project," Assini said.

"That has never been the intention for AIM Photonics Institute, to have 6,000 jobs directly, but it's going to create a facility and a framework, a national consortium, to facilitate the technologies and integrative photonics that will create a lot of jobs," said Esposito.

He said construction for the project was completed a few months ago. They are working on installing equipment to get ready for users to start using in the fall.

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