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EPA Brownfields Grants Announced For Projects In Upstate New York, Long Island

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The Environmental Protection Agency

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has announced millions of dollars in grants to address contaminated brownfields. As WAMC’s Southern Adirondack Bureau Chief Lucas Willard reports, some of the grants are for projects in upstate New York.

The EPA recently announced $66.5 million in grants to address brownfields, and during a press conference Wednesday, some of those projects in the Mohawk Valley and Capital Region were highlighted.

Walter Mugdan is the acting Regional Administrator for EPA Region 2. He says since 1995, the Brownfields Program has brought economic revival to “forgotten and struggling communities.”

“Nationwide, communities participating in the Brownfields Program have been able to attract more than $34.4 billion in cleanup and redevelopment funding after receiving Brownfields funds. And this has led to over 175,000 jobs in cleanup, construction, and redevelopment,” said Mugdan.

The grants announced Wednesday include $300,000 to the Fulton County Center for Regional Growth to inventory sites and conduct eight environmental assessments. Priority sites include a former landfill, vacant industrial sites including a former chemical supply company and a former leather tannery, and a dry-cleaning facility.

Ron Peters is President and CEO of the Fulton County Center for Regional Growth, based in Gloversville…

“At one point we accounted for 97 percent of the all of the worldwide leather glove manufacturing, hence our name Gloversville, where we are located now. But those times have come and passed. We have to focus on new targeted industries. But our past has left us with a lot of remnants and now is the time to start working with those properties and getting them back into productive use again,” said Peters.

The City of Troy is set to receive $600,000 in EPA funding to prepare an inventory of brownfield sites, select sites for assessment, and conduct assessments on 32 sites. The funding will also support 12 reuse plans and community outreach activities.

Troy Mayor Patrick Madden said the funding will support efforts to redevelop the South Troy waterfront, home to several former industrial and commercial sites, which are not only languishing but also serving as a barrier between city neighborhoods and the Hudson River.

“Remediation of brownfield sites, as we all know, is expensive and complicated work, especially in area like South Troy with multiple owners involved. This funding will make that task much more approachable,” said Madden.

Also announced Wednesday, the Mohawk Valley Economic Development Growth Enterprises Association will receive $300,000 to target projects in Rome, Utica, and Sherrill. The Greater Mohawk Valley Land Bank will receive $800,000 for projects in Canajoharie, Fort Plain, and Little Falls. And the Town of North Hempstead on Long Island will receive $800,000.

Among local officials speaking during Wednesday’s press conference were Congressman Paul Tonko of New York’s 20th District, 118th District State Assemblyman Robert Smullen of Johnstown, Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente, and staff for Congresswoman Elise Stefanik of New York’s 21st House District and New York State Senator Jim Tedisco of the 49th District.

The five awards announced Wednesday total $2.8 million in EPA Brownfields funding.

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