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County's emphasis on environment produces another win

by jmaloni
Wed, Feb 15th 2012 11:55 am

$300k grant will rehab portion of old Nike base

by Christian W. Peck

Public Information Officer

Niagara County Public Information Office

Niagara County officials are continuing their full-court press to rehabilitate brownfield sites in every corner of the county after receiving a pair of grants from National Grid Tuesday.

The first grant, $25,000 to fund an environmental assessment study at an abandoned herbicide plant in the town of Somerset, was announced Monday night by County Legislator John Syracuse, R-Newfane, and Town Supervisor Dan Engert, R-Somerset. A larger $300,000 grant to rehabilitate portions of a Cold War-era missile base in Cambria was announced at Tuesday night's meeting of the County Legislature's Administration Committee.

The grant, funded by National Grid's Brownfield Redevelopment Assistance Program, will fund the demolition of several buildings at the former Nike missile base's radar site, located off Unicorn Drive in Cambria.

"We're really pleased by the partnership shown to our local and county governments by National Grid," said Legislature Deputy Majority Leader Dave Godfrey, R-Wilson. "They've already committed substantial resources to our efforts to make sites around the county shovel-ready, and the $300,000 provided by National Grid for the rehabilitation of the former Nike missile base's radar facility in Cambria will do much to rehabilitate that site."

Godfrey was referring to a $300,000 grant, also provided by National Grid, that allowed officials from Cambria and the Niagara County Center for Economic Development to have a pristine 152-acre parcel in the town declared "shovel-ready" by New York state's economic development agency earlier this month. That site, christened the Cambria Technology Park, is among the first in the state to receive the shovel-ready designation.

Godfrey said that Tuesday night's grant award was particularly important to the town, which had inherited the former missile site from the federal government in the 1980s, but did not have the resources to commission a needed overhaul.

"That site has been a concern, because it has been an eyesore and a fire hazard," Godfrey said. "With this grant, demolition can finally proceed on several of the buildings on the base."

Godfrey indicated that the structures set for demolition include former living quarters already damaged by arson, a barracks facility, a garage structure, an old water tank, and a storage shed.

Soil testing in 1990 did not indicate contamination at the site, Godfrey noted. However, he said, the principal environmental concern is asbestos material in the structures - a major cost driver in the building demolition process.

"This remediation effort will mitigate the asbestos issue completely," Godfrey said.

He was optimistic that rehabilitating the site would derive economic benefit for county residents.

"Hopefully this land can be revitalized within the local planning and zoning ordinances," Godfrey said. "Then the town can seek developers for the property, bringing much-needed new jobs to Niagara County."

This latest grant follows a string of wins by the Niagara County Center for Economic Development and the county's Brownfield Development Corp., and is part of a strong emphasis on environmental stewardship and economic development throughout the county, and has seen environmental rehabilitation efforts at brownfields including Lockport's Dussault Foundry and Kohl Cycle sites, other portions of Cambria's Nike missile site, a former Union Carbide site in Niagara Falls, and a cold storage facility in Youngstown.

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