02.20.14

SCHUMER: ABANDONED TEXTILE MILL, DRY CLEANERS OTHER BROWNFIELD SITES IN GLENS FALLS ARE EYESORES, RAISE HEALTH CONCERNS HURT DOWNTOWN REDEVELOPMENT EFFORTS SENATOR URGES EPA TO AWARD $700,000 IN BROWNFIELD CLEANUP GRANT TO THE CITY

br$700K Federal Grant Would Help Glens Falls Clean Up 6 High-Priority Sites that Are Desperately in Need of Repair Six Sites are in Highly Residential Areas, Near Schools, Where they Pose Environmental Risks brbrbrSchumer Says Funds for Cleanup Will Help Keep the Community Safe and Healthy, Spur Expansion and RedevelopmentbrbrbrSchumer to EPA: Glens Falls Should be at the Top of the List for Brownfield Cleanup Grant, Which will Enhance Public Health and Economic Revitalizationbrbr

Today, at the Former Aroxy Dry Cleaners at 251 Warren Street, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer launched his push to secure an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) grant for the City of Glens Falls in order to clean up six highpriority sites that are currently eyesores and hurt downtown redevelopment. Specifically, this grant funding would come through the EPA's Revolving Loan Fund (RLF) Brownfield Grand Program. Schumer said this is a matter of public health and economic development; many of these locations are old industrial sites that harbor hazardous materials, and because they have not been cleaned up, they are blocking potential redevelopment.  A few of the sites are located in highly concentrated residential areas, some near schools, and should be cleaned up as soon as possible to prevent further exposure.  Schumer underscored that Glens Falls is in need of new sites for redevelopment, and these brownfields - once cleaned up - could serve as potential locations for commercial or residential development, which will create jobs and boost the local economy.

"Investing in the cleanup of Glens Falls brownfields is crucial both for the shortterm health of residents living near these sites, and the longterm redevelopment of the communities," said Schumer.  "Brownfields are especially difficult roadblocks to economic growth because they require careful cleanup before demolition and reconstruction.  Vacant and rundown properties, especially contaminated ones, are more than just an eyesore for local residents, they devalue nearby properties, create an immense drag on the local economy, and can endanger our residents.  That's why we need to put the wheels in motion now; get these sites cleaned up; remove the health risk; and start on plans to transition them to commercial or residential development.  With an EPA grant in hand, the process will move much faster, so I plan to go to bat for Glens Falls with the federal government." 

Schumer was joined by Mayor Jack Diamond, President of the Warren County Economic Development Corporation Ed Bartholomew, President of the City Council Dan Hall, and New York State Assemblyman Dan Stec as he stood in front of one of the brownfield sites, a dilapidated dry cleaner, that would receive funding for cleanup under the EPA grant.  Several Glens Falls industrial sites have closed in the past few decades, leaving vacant brownfield sites across the city, in addition to outdated commercial properties like the former Aroxy Dry Cleaners. According to the City of Glens Falls, there is limited space for new business, with less than 1% of "green land" available for commercial development. However over 15% of the city's land could be "recycled" and later redeveloped, like many of the brownfield sites slotted for cleanup in Glens Falls' grant application. "Recycling" areas that once contained mills and plants create a great opportunity for commercial redevelopment, new businesses, and new jobs in Glens Falls, said Schumer.

The City's proposal for this $700,000 grant through the EPA's Brownfields RLF program cited six priority brownfield sites to cleanup: a vacant gas station, the Aroxy Dry Cleaners, an iron works, a post office, a paper mill, and a textile plant. These sites are all located near city residents, in spots near apartment complexes, schools, and the city's central business district. Each brownfield site each contains several potentially dangerous contaminants and the cumulative effect of these sites poses a substantial health risk on area residents. Schumer pushed to clean these sites to limit these environmental risks and improve the community's public health.

The City of Glens Falls has a Community Involvement Plan (CIP) to help the community assist the brownfield cleanup program. The City will partner with other federal agencies like the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the New York State Departments of Health, Environmental Conservation, and Transportation to support the cleanup. Additionally, local organizations like Adirondack Community College, Glens Falls Hospital, Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 773, and many others have pledged to assist with site identification, public outreach, and reuse project implementation.  Schumer said that successfully cleaning up these sites will open the door for commercial and residential development that would add to the community and its economy, not subtract as the brownfields currently do.

 The EPA's Brownfields Revolving Loan Fund Grants is designed to provide municipalities and communitybased organizations with funding assistance for cleanup projects.  The funding goes to a grant recipient to capitalize a revolving fund: to make loans and provide subgrants to carry out cleanup activities at brownfield sites. Approval of this grant request will enable the City of Glens Falls to begin cleaning up these six highpriority Brownfield sites in the target area. It will also assist the City in identifying future uses for those areas that currently contain brownfields by removing barriers to redevelopment as well as facilitating the establishment of public/privatesector partnerships that will help leverage the critical private investment needed to revitalize the City of Glens Falls.

A copy of Senator Schumer's letter to the EPA appears below:

 

Dear Administrator:

 

I am pleased to write in support of the application submitted by the City of Glens Falls for $700,000 in funding through the US EPA's Brownfields Revolving Loan Fund Grants.  Such funding will enable Glens Falls to undertake the cleanup and redevelopment of several Brownfield Priority Sites.

 

Glens Falls was once a thriving center of industry and manufacturing, but since the early 1980s, at least three large factories have closed and many others have been downsized.  These now vacant properties, which are located in highly concentrated residential areas, pose substantial environmental risks from the presence of the chemicals and heavy metals that remain, and residents have been suffering the effects of related health problems for 40 years.  With this funding, Glens Falls will facilitate the cleanup and redevelopment of between 4 and 6 Priority Brownfield Sites.  The RLF grant will facilitate the cleanup and redevelopment of several underutilized properties; return at least $3 million of assessed value back on local tax rolls (using projections based on the last five years of similar projects in the immediate area); leverage an additional $5 million of private investment for site assessments, cleanup, and redevelopment over the next five years; encourage more than $1 million in public infrastructure improvements in the City of Glens Falls and surrounding communities, and create new short and longterm jobs, including construction workers that will be needed to perform Brownfield cleanup and redevelopment projects.

 

The City of Glens Falls does not have sufficient funds to remediate contaminated Brownfield sites, or to provide financial assistance to property owners for cleanup activities.  In addition, funds that were formerly available to municipalities for Brownfield cleanup projects through the NYSDEC Environmental Restoration Program (ERP) are depleted.  Given this lack of available State funds, the City of Glens Falls is seeking federal funding for the cleanup of Priority Brownfield Sites.  If EPA funding is secured, the City will utilize existing partnerships of property owners and local and regional economic development organizations to facilitate cleanup and reuse of the Priority Sites.

 

All told, the City has leveraged $33 million in public and private investments in the past 10 years as a result of its local Brownfields Program using EPA assistance. Glens Falls has also received preferred sustainability status (PSS) as the result of the award of a HUD Community Challenge Grant in 2010, and the award of a HUD Regional Planning Grant in 2011.  Glens Falls clearly has a proven track record of effectively leveraging public funding to generate matching private investment to clean up and renew its communities.  

 

Funding these cleanup efforts will enable Glens Falls to mitigate environmental and health risks, improve the safety and health of its citizens, enhance the appeal and appearance of the City, and work towards economic revitalization.  I applaud the City of Glens Falls and its partners for their foresight, and sincerely hope the application for funding meets with your approval.

 

Sincerely,

 

Charles E. Schumer

United States Senator

 

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