The former Karg Brothers Tannery was one of the biggest leather works in Johnstown for decades after it opened in 1900.
Today, the 61⁄2 acres of barren land with concrete foundations off of North Perry Street is little more than an eyesore.
But green grass will dominate the site along the Cayadutta Creek once steps are taken starting next week to address contamination left by industry.
The state Department of Environmental Conservation on Wednesday announced a project that will feature a new soil cover, a measure that could allow for residential use of the property.
Soon, residents in the vicinity can expect to see city DPW trucks hauling dirt to establish the soil cover on the site.
City engineer Chandra Cotter said the site, once considered for a park, could ultimately serve as tax revenue-generating housing.
“That’s our hope. It’s been a barren field for as long as I can remember,” Cotter said.
According to information the DEC released Wednesday, contamination in the creek, groundwater and neighboring properties followed the spillage of acids, solvents, soaps, paints, pigments and other chemicals used in the tanning industry.
Contaminants found in the nearby Cayadutta Creek, in the soil on the site and on neighboring properties include arsenic, chromium, copper, mercury, nickel and zinc, according to the DEC.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency coordinated a cleanup there 12 years ago, removing waste in containers, residues, liquids and sludge along with decontaminating and demolishing buildings on the property.
As cleanup continues, Cotter said the site’s potential for re-use continues to grow.
It’s situated within two blocks of the city’s downtown, on a main thoroughfare that connects the main streets of both Johnstown and Gloversville.
And though it’s likely the groundwater won’t be usable, the site has the advantage of city sewer and water services.
“There’s a lot of pluses to the site,” Cotter said.
Cotter said both cities are working together to draft a grant application under the Brownfield Opportunity Areas program, a state effort that helps communities make something of run-down, contaminated sites.
People interested in learning more about plans for the site can find details at the Johnstown Public Library at 38 Market St. and at City Hall at 33-31 E. Main St.