Earlier this week, the Glens Falls Common Council accepted terms as a lead agency on a federal grant through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to help communities assess contaminated lands for redevelopment.
The $600,000 Regional Risk Assessment grant is aimed at assessing brownfield sites affected by hazardous materials or petroleum. Glens Falls joins South Glens Fall, Moreau, Corinth, Hadley, and Chester in this effort.
According to Ed Bartholomew, chair of EDC Warren County and Economic Development Director for the City of Glens Falls, the grant dollars will be used for assessing approximately 50 sites throughout the region.
“The money will essentially provide for a number of ‘Phase I’s which basically is a review…of all the issues that have been recorded on the piece of property itself. Secondly, if there determines from that original Phase I a need for some on-site soil investigation, testing, then we would move on to that.”
The money would not go towards cleanup work itself. Rather it would determine if the site is ready for development. Bartholomew said once the site is determined clean the property owner can take the paperwork to the bank for financing, and start the job.
“If there is a Phase I and II that shows some hazardous contamination or petroleum contamination, we then would see what the cost is, try to work with EPA and DEC to see if there are funds available that would assist to clean up the property, besides the EPA cleanup monies that we had applied for,” said Bartholomew.
Peter Aust, President and CEO of the Adirondack Regional Chamber of Commerce, which serves Warren, Washington, and Saratoga Counties, said he often encounters businesses that would like to expand, or redevelop, but cannot due to the costs associated with brownfield assessment and cleanup.
“There are a number of businesses who are challenged with this,” said Aust. “They find themselves in a position where they would like to expand their business, there’s a property that would be ideally suited for that expansion, but because it is a contaminated property, or a brownfields, that they are unwilling to invest in it unless there are some funding fields that would assist with cleaning it up.”
In February, Senator Charles Schumer visited Glens Falls to advocate for separate EPA funding to clean up six sites within the city’s First Ward.
“This neighborhood is home to a widespread problem in parts of Glens Falls, vacant or dilapidated properties. Just look at the abandoned dry cleaners behind me,” said Schumer, standing outside the former Aroxy Cleaners building on Warren Street.
Ed Bartholomew said the EPA funding awarded to the municipalities will support a wide variety of projects.
“We may be looking at abandoned factories or buildings throughout these particular areas, as well as any piece of property that is looking to be acquired by a municipality, whether it’s for a park or redevelopment purposes, really needs to be determined whether it’s a clean piece of property.”