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Schumer Pushing For Brownfield Cleanup Funding For Glens Falls

New York U.S. Senator Charles Schumer was in Glens Falls today to call for Environmental Protection Agency funding to cleanup brownfield sites throughout the city.

Senator Schumer gathered with Glens Falls mayor Jack Diamond and other local officials at the Former Aroxy Dry Cleaners. The brownfield site on Warren Street is one of six high-priority locations within the city that officials are focused on redeveloping.

“This neighborhood is home to a widespread problem in parts of Glens Falls – vacant or dilapidated properties,” said Schumer. “Just look at the building behind me.”

Schumer announced his push to secure federal funding through the EPA’s Revolving Loan Fund Brownfield Grant Program. Schumer is hoping to secure $700,000 to help remediate the contaminated areas that are currently unable to be used as commercial property and pose a health and safety risk.

According to the City of Glens Falls, less than 1 percent of the available commercial space is considered “green land” – or ready to be developed. Fifteen percent of the available commercial space could be developed if “recycled” and remediated.

In addition to the Aroxy Dry Cleaners site, the grant would help clean up a vacant gas station, an iron works, a post office, a paper mill, and a textile plant.

Senator Schumer said he’s confident Glens Falls would be considered for the competitive grant, and said that in the past 13 years, the city has secured three separate grants from the EPA.

“We helped get some of these in the past, so the fact that we’ve had some success makes us optimistic,” said Schumer. “Obviously you can’t count your chickens before they hatch, and these are very competitive, but Glens Falls’ record is going to help me sell this grant to the EPA.”

Glens Falls was once a thriving, regional industry hub. Many of the former facilities have now closed, and contaminants remain in sites that dot residential, as well as commercial areas.

Elizabeth Miller of Miller Mechanical Services, Inc., a steel fabrication company based in the city, said her business has been looking to expand for the past few years, but cannot use property adjacent to its fabrication facility, due to chemical contamination. Miller said she’s hopeful the officials can secure the funding.

“We’ll be able to build another building, employ another 20 to 30 people, and expand our facility greatly if we had the brownfield money,” said Miller.

Glens Falls Mayor Jack Diamond said he’s worked with Senator Schumer on securing funding for a capital infrastructure project on South Street, for establishing a workforce training for Local Plumbers and Steamfitters UA 773 at Tech Meadows Industrial Park, and on negotiations to bring the American Hockey League’s Adirondack Phantoms to the Civic Center.

“So when we look at opportunities here, we try to include Senator Schumer in that process,” said Diamond.

The EPA Brownfield Revolving Loan Fund grant will help Glens Falls begin the work on the six Brownfield Priority Sites, but the city will also seek the partnership of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the New York State Departments of Health, Environmental Conservation, and Transportation to assist with cleanup efforts, in addition to local partners that have also pledged their support.

Lucas Willard is a reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011.
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