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Jain Irrigation passes on building new plant in Watertown industrial park

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Jain Irrigation will not proceed with plans to construct a $10 million facility on the last empty lots in the City Center Industrial Park.

Donald W. Rutherford, CEO of the Watertown Local Development Corp., also known as the Watertown Trust, confirmed Wednesday that the company will remain instead at its Water Street plant. He said he learned Monday of the company’s decision in an email from Carson D. Lennox, general manager of the Watertown plant.

David J. Zembiec, deputy director of the Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency, said that while the news could have been better, he is glad Jain Irrigation will stay in Watertown.

The company still plans to add jobs here and upgrade the Water Street facility to make it more efficient, said Mr. Zembiec, also a Watertown Trust board member.

“Whatever they need for us to help them, we’ll do it,” he said, stressing, “they still want to add jobs.”

Jain Irrigation bought the locally owned Chapin Watermatics in May 2006. Jain Irrigation, Fresno, Calif., is a subsidiary of Jain Irrigation Systems Ltd., Jalgaon, India. The company, which began in Watertown in 1962, manufactures micro-irrigation systems used on farmland.

Company officials had discussed purchasing and 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.

Mr. Rutherford said corporate officials in India had “talked extensively” about the new plant in recent months before making their decision. He said “there was no indication” that the project was not going forward until he got the news Monday; he had been talking to local Jain officials about it almost weekly until early last month.

The two economic developers hope to talk soon to Mr. Lennox, who could not be reached for comment Wednesday, to find out more about the decision and what it means for Watertown.

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. Mr. Rutherford had hoped to hear from Jain about a decision in August.

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

Calling the company “a good employer,” Mayor Jeffrey E. Graham surmised it was the project’s hefty capital cost that may have held the company back from proceeding with it.

Chapin Watermatics founder William A. Chapin invented drip irrigation during the early 1960s.

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.

When it was established 51 years ago, Chapin Watermatics opened in an assembly plant at 368 N. Colorado Ave. Mr. Chapin then traveled the world selling his “drip tapes,” which are black plastic tubes about an inch in diameter that distribute water to crops through openings in the tubes.

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