GLOVERSVILLE & MONTGOMERY COUNTY – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday announced a $300,000 Brownfields Program assessment grant for properties in Fulton County and an $800,000 multipurpose grant for the Greater Mohawk Valley Land Bank.
The grants are part of $66.5 million worth of EPA grants awarded to 151 communities nationwide for the purpose of assessing and cleaning up contaminated properties under the EPA’s Brownfields Program.
The Mohawk Valley and the Capital Region received a total of $2.8 million worth of Brownsfield Program grants Wednesday, with the largest grant, $800,000, going to the Greater Mohawk Valley Land Bank targeting a 20-mile stretch of land along the Erie Canal Corridor that includes the villages of Canajoharie and Fort Plain and the city of Little Falls. The multipurpose grant will be used to update a brownfields site inventory, select sites for investigation, conduct 15 environmental site assessments, clean up five properties and develop six reuse plans.
Greater Mohawk Valley Land Bank Executive Director Tolga Morawski said some of the properties the land bank intends to use the grant money for include a vacant mixed-use apartment building in Little Falls, the former Fort Plain High School and Masonic Temple at 51 Mohawk St., a former filling station and general store located at 56 Route 10 in Canajoharie, the site of the former Palatine Dyeing Company in St. Johnsville and the former Cellect Plastics LLC building in St. Johnsville.
Morawski said landbank officials are excited to receive the multipurpose grant, because it can be used both for assessing the environmental damage in the soil of a property as well as covering some of the cost of remediating the damage. He said he expects the money will enable the Greater Mohawk Valley Land Bank to do at least some aspect of brownfield assessment and remediation work at approximately 30 different properties, some owned by the landbank, and some properties in the possession or control of the landbank’s member counties, like Montgomery County.
“I believe we have five years to use the grant,” Morawski said. “We’re going to ask our member counties and their municipalities if they have any cleanup projects they would like assistance for from this grant.”
Morawski said the multipurpose grant should enable the land bank to move forward with its plans to demolish the site of the former Diotte’s Garage, which is adjacent to the Fort Plain Village Hall. He said brownfield assessment is a crucial step in the process of demolishing old buildings, clearing them for new development.
“If you just knock a building down, and there’s contamination, you basically end up sending the contaminants through the air,” he said. “Or if you’ve got a buried oil tank and you drive over it with a heavy excavator you can basically make that tank pop and end up sending the oil into the ground and into the water table.”
Morawski said the EPA grant will also help move forward the land bank’s plan to develop the former Fort Plain High School and Masonic Temple into apartments.
In Fulton County the $300,000 assessment will be used to inventory sites and conduct eight environmental site assessments. Grant funds also will be used to develop four reuse plans. The priority sites in Fulton County include a former municipal landfill, a vacant former chemical supply company, an active dry-cleaning facility, and an abandoned leather tannery located in a residential neighborhood.
“This grant will give us the ability to assess our brownfield sites, bring them to the next level and return them to productive economic development opportunities,” stated Ron Peters, the president of the Fulton County Center for Regional Growth.
The second largest EPA Brownfield Program grant awarded in the Capital Region Wednesday was a $600,000 assessment grant for the city of Troy for the purpose of conducting 32 environmental site assessments for the purpose of creating a site inventory and 12 “reuse plans.” The Troy grant will focus on the South Troy Working Waterfront area, with priority sites including a former industrial and commercial property and the Clemente Latham Concrete site on First Street, and the 13-acre Troy Slag Assembly property formerly used for coal storage.