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OCIDA to use EPA funding for cleanup of Syracuse’s Roth Steel site

By Eric Reinhardt

Date:

The Onondaga County Industrial Development Agency (OCIDA) will use a $200,000 federal brownfields grant to help clean up the former Roth Steel Inc. property located at 800 Hiawatha Boulevard West in Syracuse.

The $200,000 grant is among a total of $54.3 million that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is providing for brownfields sites nationwide, the agency said in a news release. The EPA has also awarded funding to the Herkimer County Industrial Development Agency (IDA) and the City of Cortland for projects as well.

They’re among 144 communities selected for federal grant funding to clean up brownfield properties.

“Brownfield grants are helping communities throughout our region unlock the unmet economic potential of contaminated and unused lands,” Pete Lopez, EPA regional administrator, said in the release. “Once cleanup is complete, the site can be put to reuse with the potential to bring in valuable private sector development, jobs, and additional tax revenue.”

Roth Steel

The 24-acre Syracuse site operated as a metal processing and recycling center from the 1950s until 2014, when Roth declared bankruptcy and the facility was closed.

The site is contaminated with poly-chlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), metals, and volatile organic compounds. The goal for cleanup is to remove hazardous hot spots on the site to allow recreational use and contribute to the creation of a trail that loops the entirety of the Onondaga Lake shoreline.

“Through the EPA brownfields-cleanup program, the Onondaga County Industrial Development Agency will be able to rehabilitate this site back into productive use and prevent this property from blighting the city of Syracuse,” the Onondaga County Industrial Development Agency said in the release. “Without the EPA brownfields program, [OCIDA] would not be able to leverage its funds to the extent necessary to return the former Roth Steel property into a clean and productive site for taxpayers of the county.”

The grant from the EPA brownfield program will help continue efforts to clean the Roth steel site and return it to productive use, Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney added.

“Rehabilitating this valuable lakefront property is an important component in our efforts to continue to Loop the Lake and encourage further development in and around our Inner Harbor neighborhood,” said Mahoney.

 

Cortland

The City of Cortland will use a community-wide grant of $200,000 to conduct environmental-site assessments.

Cortland will use the grant to “inventory, characterize, assess, and conduct” planning and community-engagement activities. Many of the sites are “abandoned, unsuitable for redevelopment, community eyesores, and drain the economic vitality of the area,” the EPA said.

The former Apex Tools site, which stopped manufacturing in 2015, is described as a “high-priority” site for assessment work under this grant.

Since 1834, the factory produced wire rope, chain fittings, and overhead lifting devices.

The soil and groundwater at this site are “likely” to have contaminants that include heavy metals, volatile organic compounds, semi-volatile organic compounds and PCBs.

This large area of contaminated land is a “major concern” for the community since it is located in a primarily residential neighborhood with “no cleanup plans” currently in place.

“The legacy of the City’s industrial past now negatively impacts 25 percent of the land within the City,” Mack Cook, director of administration and finance for the City of Cortland, said in the release. “Using Brownfields to address the problem is essential to re-constructing the City into a modern live/work environment but this problem is unfortunately beyond the City’s fiscal capability to address without outside assistance.”

Herkimer County

The Herkimer County Industrial Development Agency will use a communitywide grant of $200,000 to conduct environmental-site assessments.

Herkimer County will use these funds to “identify and assess” brownfield sites located in the county’s urban centers and along the waterways in communities such as Ilion, Dolgeville, Frankfort, village of Herkimer, town of Herkimer, and Little Falls.

Sites chosen for assessment have the potential for redevelopment as affordable housing located in areas of existing infrastructure or redevelopment as manufacturers for packaging and distribution of food and beverage products.

“This EPA grant would allow us to explore properties that could help encourage economic development throughout the county,” John Piseck, executive director of the Herkimer County IDA, said.

Contact Reinhardt at ereinhardt@cnybj.com

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