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Rep. Delgado Tours Former Beech-Nut Site

The location of a sprawling former factory in Montgomery County received a visit from New York Congressman Antonio Delgado Tuesday as local officials continue work to redevelop the site.

Flashlights on, Montgomery County Executive Matt Ossenfort led Congressman Delgado through one of the enormous buildings that once housed the Beech-Nut baby food factory.

Ossenfort, a Republican, showed Delgado, a Democrat, a map of the site – pointing out more than 200,000 square feet of buildings are slated for demolition.

“These right here…are in the worst shape and have the least amount of chance of being reused. And we can take all of this down with the money we have, so that’s next step,” said Ossenfort.

The future of the westernmost section, including Building 17, which once housed Beech-Nut’s office space, has not been determined yet, however. The floors and walls have been cleaned – asbestos and mold removed under county ownership.

In 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency gave the county the go-ahead to remove contaminated debris piles on a portion the site. A Restore NY Grant awarded in 2018 gave the county $6 million for further remediation and demolition.

Delgado sees a future for the site.  

“There’s a lot of upside here. And it’s encouraging. And we certainly want to help wherever we can. We talked a bit about how the EPA has played a critical role in making sure this process moves along. We definitely want to help on our end, as well,” said Delgado.  

There’s been a lot of discussion over the last few years about what to do with the property. As cleanup continues, the county has been trying to market the 26.9 acre complex to developers – hoping to bring jobs back to the community.

Canajoharie leaders want to see the whole site torn down. Here’s former village Mayor Francis Avery and current Mayor Jeff Baker.  

“We still have leaky roofs, roof drains are leaking, and my question is going to be, ‘What’s that going to do for mold growth again? So there’s a lot to deal with yet,” said Avery.

“And as a whole the village board and I agree it should be taken down, that’s the biggest thing,” said Baker.

Ossenfort acknowledges the difference of opinion in the community.

“What we’ve said from the beginning is we will let the data drive the decisions. And as you’ve noticed, I said, if it’s possible to save Building 17, we’d like to. But we also understand if it’s not, then that’s the reality we’re living in. So we don’t have to make that decision right now and a wide-breadth of opinions is good because we’re going to consider all of our options as we move forward. But, yeah, are there differing opinions? Absolutely,” said Ossenfort.

Lucas Willard is a news reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011. He produces and hosts The Best of Our Knowledge and WAMC Listening Party.
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