STANDING AT AMSTERDAM’S BLIGHTED FIVE CORNERS COMMERCIAL SITE, SCHUMER LAUNCHES TWO-PRONGED PLAN TO BOOST VITAL BROWNFIELDS PROGRAM AND GET FEDS TO CLEAN UP SITE TO TURN COMMUNITY EYESORE INTO SITE OF NEW ECONOMIC GROWTH
Amsterdam’s Five Corners Commercial Site Has Sat Abandoned For Years Because Expected Industrial Pollution From Past Use Has Stifled Economic Development
With EPA Assessment Underway For Five Corners, Schumer Reveals Historic $1.5 Billion He Secured For The EPA Brownfields Program; Pushes For The Feds To Begin Working On Decades Old Amsterdam Site ASAP
Schumer: Amsterdam Has Waited Long Enough -- It’s Time To Clean Up Five Corners
Standing at the former Five Corners commercial site in Amsterdam, where the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has recently begun a Brownfields contamination assessment, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer today launched a two-pronged plan to clean up the community eyesore and turn the abandoned lot into a site for new opportunity. First, Schumer explained that he secured a historic $1.5 billion for the EPA’s Brownfields programs in the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act, which after the EPA’s environmental assessment of Five Corners, Amsterdam can tap to begin remediation of the site. Second, the senator plans to call for even more funding in this year’s appropriations bill for Brownfield cleanup projects, which would supercharge local efforts to transform the blighted commercial site, improve public health and create new development and job opportunities.
“Amsterdam has had to deal with this contaminated community eyesore for too long and it is time for the feds to help transform this site and keep our neighborhoods safe, healthy, and growing,” said Senator Schumer. “I commend the EPA for its ongoing environmental assessment of Five Corners and I will be fighting to make sure this project stays on track and Amsterdam gets every penny it needs to clean up this blighted lot. Sites like Amsterdam’s are exactly why I fought so hard for a historic $1.5 billion for the EPA’s Brownfields program in the bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Cleaning up sites like Five Corners to return them to productive use can be an engine for economic development for Montgomery County and is a critical part of revitalizing the City of Amsterdam that will create new jobs and breathe new life into the community.”
"This site is located at the center of the pathway of factories and mills that made Amsterdam one of New York State's most important industrial centers by the turn of the 20th Century. That same history left some unanswered questions regarding the environmental conditions of the earth and groundwater beneath this parcel. Those questions were not answered when developers decided this intersection was a perfect place for commercial development in the mid 1960s. Instead they just built on top of it,” said Mayor of Amsterdam Michael Cinquanti. “They were right about the commercial potential but their failure to properly investigate and prepare the building site came back to bite them and eventually blight this historic working class neighborhood. I am convinced if we can do it right this time, this parcel will once again become one of our City's biggest commercial success stories. Senator Schumer and Congressman Paul Tonko are laser focused on helping old upstate industrial cities like Amsterdam get the testing, remediation and demolition support necessary to turn unsightly, unproductive brownfield sites like this old plaza back into productive properties and I am deeply grateful they are working on our City's behalf.”
For a decade, the Five Corners property, which is just outside the heart of the City of Amsterdam, has sat abandoned with the city unable to utilize the property due to the likelihood of contamination from the site’s industrial past, stifling economic development The parcel sits on a filled-in pond bed that once was used by a linseed oil company, adjacent to an old paper mill, and downhill from the old Mohawk Carpet mill. In 2020, the EPA announced a $300,000 Brownfield federal grant for the Montgomery County site to evaluate the environmental cleanup costs and assess what remediation may be needed at the site before future development can occur.
Schumer explained that historically, cleaning up Brownfields can cost millions of dollars, and, until recently, little funding from the federal government had been available to help local municipalities deal with those high costs. However, thanks to the historic investments Schumer was able to secure in the bipartisan Infrastructure Law, billions of dollars in funding will now be available to remediate contamination of sites throughout Upstate New York and communities like Amsterdam. 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.
The competitive grants can be used to help Amsterdam fund everything from the physical cleanup, to revolving loan funds and developing job-training programs to support the revitalization of the site. Schumer said that especially as New York emerges from the pandemic, the cleanup of these legacy industrial sites is especially important to maximize the economic and environmental recovery of our most vulnerable communities. That is why Schumer announced he will continue to fight for additional government funding for the Brownfields program in this year’s spending bill.
Senator Schumer applauded the EPA’s assessment efforts at the site, which are still ongoing, and said that his plan to get Amsterdam to tap into the existing opportunities in the bipartisan Infrastructure Law and increase future funding would ensure the cleanup of the site will have sustained access to federal funding for the long-term. The City of Amsterdam has already identified the site for future mixed-use development with a focus on locating a grocery store or fresh food access to help address the fact that the city is considered a food desert. The plan is that with federal support, the city can clean up and attract new developers for the parcel to make this gateway to the city a welcome site of growth for the community once again.
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