AMSTERDAM & ST. JOHNSVILLE -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced the award of a $300,000 brownfield grant for two properties in Montgomery County Wednesday.
The money will be used to evaluate the environmental cleanup costs for a parcel in the city of Amsterdam adjacent to the Five Corners Mobil gas station; and the other for the former Cellect Plastics building located at 12 New St. in the village of St. Johnsville.
Montgomery County Economic Development Director Ken Rose said his office applied for the grant money from the EPA. He said the purpose of the funding is to pay for what are called Phase 1 and Phase 2 environmental assessments of the two parcels.
Rose described the Phase 1 study as a "desktop assessment" of the parcels, which would include a complete history for each, such as any existing "spill logs" or other environmental reports that can indicate what might need to be cleaned at the sites.
He said the Phase 2 study would include test borings of the soil at each property to see what contamination, if any, is present at each location. He said determining what needs to be cleaned up is crucial to beginning the process of redeveloping the parcels.
"We don't know what's there, honestly, and that's part of why we need to identify that," Rose said. "I mean the Five Corners property is a gateway to the city of Amsterdam when you're going through the heart of the city, and it's really been a blighted property for 20 or 30 years now. We saw an opportunity to target some funding to do these Phase 1 and Phase 2 studies, and then hopefully put together a cleanup plan."
The EPA grant was announced by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Regional Administrator Pete Lopez during a conference call with reporters at which a total of $2 million in grants were announced for several other areas of the state.
"We're trying to take these sites that have been left behind from contamination and turn them back into assets," Lopez said.
Lopez said also included in the award for Amsterdam and St. Johnsville is money for Phase 1 and Phase 2 for a fuel oil storage property and a former paper mill site, but did not give addresses for those locations.
Amanda Bearcroft, Amsterdam's director of community and economic development, said the city does not own the parcel at the Five Corners, but could foreclose on the site at any time. She said the parcel has been broken into three parts, with the former retail plaza being the land that will be included in the brownfield study. She said the city and county were able to apply for the grant money even though the city doesn't own the land through a "Temporary Incidents of Ownership" agreement.
Rose said he believes the former Cellect Plastics building, where commercial foam products were made, has been abandoned for approximately seven years. He said he believes a remnant of the Cellect business still operates out of the Hill & Markes building on 5S.