Skip to content


Last Year, Schumer Stood At Abandoned “Buisch” Gas Station To Launch Push, And Now He Is Delivering The Funding To Transform Dozens Of Toxic Finger Lakes Brownfields Into Sites For Productive Use, Helping To Take The Burden Of Polluted Properties Off Local Taxpayers

Now Schumer Has Secured New Fed $$ To Clean Up Dozens Of These Sites Across The Region, Which Will Help Jumpstart Cleanup And Transform Eyesores — Like Abandoned Gas Stations, Polluted Factories, And Large Sites Like The Seneca Army Depot & The Recently Abandoned Willard Asylum

Schumer: Cleanup And Reuse Of These Toxic Eyesores For The Finger Lakes Begins Today!

Standing at a decrepit former laundromat in Geneseo, after launching his push standing at the contaminated, long-abandoned former gas station brownfield site in Seneca County last year, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer today announced Seneca County and Livingston County will each receive a $1.5 million federal Brownfields Assessment Grant through the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to assess, safely clean up, and sustainably reuse contaminated properties across the Finger Lakes region. 

Schumer said this major funding will be used to clean up eyesores that have long plagued the area like the abandoned Buisch’s gas station, Seneca Army Depot, shuttered Willard State Asylum campus, and dozens of other hazardous sites across the Finger Lakes, revitalizing these areas for new development and economic opportunities.

“For too long, Finger Lakes communities have had to deal with public health and safety risks from contaminated sites in their communities, from abandoned gas stations to inactive landfills or blighted businesses. I stood at one of these toxic lots last year and promised to deliver the funding to help, and now, thanks to this major $3 million federal investment, we can accelerate the cleanup of contaminated eyesores in Seneca and Livingston Counties and abandoned sites like the shuttered Willard State Asylum campus in Seneca County, making our communities healthier and cleaner, all while creating good-paying jobs and new development opportunities that enhance local tax rolls,” said Senator Schumer. “The Brownfields program has had tremendous success in transforming sites like these into areas of new growth and will supercharge cleanup and redevelopment efforts at lots across every corner of Seneca and Livingston Counties. I am proud to deliver this federal investment to revitalize our communities and will always fight for a brighter and cleaner future for Upstate NY.”

Last year, Schumer launched his two-pronged plan to get the feds to help clean up and reuse dozens of other hazardous sites like these across the Finger Lakes region, and now, he is delivering the fed dollars needed to jumpstart reuse. 

Schumer said this includes the laundromat where he stood today, which has been vacant since 1997, and presents a significant opportunity to revitalize downtown Geneseo. Schumer said the former laundromat is just one block off of the main street and with this new funding, Geneseo can modernize and revitalize a highly visible corner, creating a new mixed-use space right in the core of the downtown.

Schumer explained there are currently dozens of documented or suspected brownfields encompassing hundreds of acres throughout Seneca and Livingston Counties. These sites include abandoned gas stations, chemical manufacturers, dry cleaners, and others which contain or likely contain hazardous contaminants like volatile organic compounds (VOCs), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), metals within soils, groundwater, and sediment, and soil gas that pose health threats to local residents and hamper redevelopment. Schumer said while these brownfields have long stood in the way of business development, on top of being eyesores and a burden to local taxpayers, many of these sites are located in prime commercial areas and along the county’s waterfronts and as a result, are ripe for redevelopment once remediation is resolved. Now, with this funding, Seneca and Livingston Counties will be able to start the cleanup so the areas can be used for the community, creating new jobs, and breathing new life into these spaces for residents.

"Seneca County, together with its partners the Towns of Waterloo, Seneca Falls, and the local nonprofit STEPS are excited to finally start addressing problem properties throughout the County with suspected environmental contamination that have for too long stymied local development efforts. This significant amount of funding from the EPA will jumpstart projects in Waterloo, Seneca Falls and sites across the whole County including the shuttered Willard State Asylum Campus. On behalf of the County, I'd like to thank the EPA as well as Senator Schumer and our entire congressional delegation for their continued advocacy in support of Seneca County's efforts," said Michael Enslow, Chairman of the Seneca County Board of Supervisors.

“I am thrilled that Livingston County and its partners were selected as a recipient for this very competitive grant. This funding will help economic development projects and other redevelopment opportunities in our County by funding environmental assessments, cleanup planning, and reuse planning activities to help redevelopment move forward," said Chairman of the Board David LeFeber. “Multiple sites within our community are well positioned for adaptive reuse projects but the lack of funding for initial assessment activities is deterring investors. This program will help resolve this issue by allowing us to quantify environmental issues and position sites for redevelopment opportunities.”

Schumer said in Livingston County, grant funds will be used to inventory and prioritize brownfield sites, develop eight cleanup plans and six site-specific reuse plans in the Towns of Caledonia, Livonia, and Leicester and the Villages of Dansville and Geneseo. Priority sites include former manufacturing sites, as well as a gas station and landfill, laundromat, and former school and jail properties. 

Schumer said the former laundromat is one of the sites that will benefit from this new fed funding. Schumer explained NYS awarded a NY Forward grant to Geneseo last year and this is one of the buildings that can use some of those funds to help in its redevelopment renovations.  That means the Brownfields grant is coming at the perfect time because it will enable the county to do the environmental investigations to identify contaminants that can then be remediated with the help of Geneseo’s NY Forward funds.  

Schumer said in Seneca County, grant funds will be used to prepare eight cleanup plans and conduct 20 Phase I and 16 Phase II environmental site assessments. Grant funds also will be used to update an inventory of brownfield sites and conduct community engagement activities. Assessment activities will focus on the Towns of Seneca Falls, Waterloo, and Romulus. Priority sites include an abandoned and vacant medical campus, a former army depot, a 1.4-acre former hospital, a 5-acre parcel with a deteriorated and abandoned auto garage and gas station, two former gas stations, and a 0.1-acre lot with a deteriorated building that formerly housed a dry cleaner.

Schumer specifically highlighted that the funding will support the redevelopment of the 550-acre Willard Drug Treatment Center Campus in Ovid and Romulus, which has a rich history in the Finger Lakes region. The property is right along Seneca Lake in the Hamlet of Willard and operated for almost 150 years. At its peak, Willard State Hospital housed almost 3,000 patients, but most recently, declining inmate populations led to its closure in March 2022.

Schumer explained that since Willard’s closure, elected officials, business leaders, and community members have banded together to advocate for responsible, locally-led redevelopment of the site. The community believes this site has tremendous future potential given its waterfront location with nearly one mile of shoreline along Seneca Lake and historic significance in the heart of the Finger Lakes region with its robust craft beverage, agriculture manufacturing, and tourism industries, which is why the redevelopment efforts are vital to the community.

Schumer said historically, cleaning up brownfields can cost millions of dollars and take several years, meaning local municipalities reply on support from state and federal governments to deal with the high costs of remediation, which is why these fed dollars are so vital.  With brownfields in the Finger Lakes impacting business development and burdened local taxpayers, Schumer said these federal dollars are critical, shifting the financial burden to the feds and allowing the region to take action to clean up these areas for communities’ benefit.

Last year, Schumer launched his two pronged plan to cleanup brownfields sites in the Finger Lakes which included 1) pushing for access to existing federal brownfield grant funding, including $1.5 billion in grants Schumer helped secure in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, for Seneca County’s first-ever Brownfields Redevelopment Strategy and 2) reauthorizing the EPA’s Brownfield Program so the Finger Lakes could complete site redevelopment. Thanks to his push to deliver the necessary investments to the Finger Lakes region, local efforts to transform these sites will get underway, improving public health and community development.

The EPA’s Brownfields Program last week announced that 178 communities were selected to receive their funding through the competitive Multipurpose, Assessment, Revolving Loan Fund (RLF), and Cleanup Grant Programs. In total, 13 communities across New York are expected to receive over $18 million in funding to combat brownfields. The Agency also announced non-competitive supplemental funding to several existing RLF grant recipients who already achieved success in their work to clean up and redevelop brownfield sites. RLF grants provide funding for recipients to offer loans and subgrants to carry out cleanup activities at brownfield sites.

Schumer’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act included billions of dollars in funding to remediate contamination of sites throughout Upstate New York. This funding includes $1.2 billion for the Brownfields competitive grants and $300 million for Brownfields categorical grants to support the development of and progress being made under state-led Brownfields efforts. This investment in EPA’s Brownfields Program aims to spur revitalization in communities large and small, urban and rural to keep their areas healthy and sustainable.