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County, Lockport leaders hail EPA brownfield award

by jmaloni
Wed, Jul 20th 2011 11:50 am

$400K grant rehabilitating abandoned foundry

Niagara County and City of Lockport officials publicly thanked a top Environmental Protection Agency official Tuesday for that agency's decision to award a major grant to rehabilitate an abandoned site in the city.

Lockport Mayor Michael W. Tucker, legislators Wm. Keith McNall, R-Lockport, and Tony Nemi, I-Lockport, and Majority Leader Rick Updegrove, R-Lockport, thanked EPA Region 2 Administrator Judith Enck for the $400,000 in federal funds, which were used to conduct environmental studies leading up to a controlled demolition at the former Dussault Foundry site planned for this fall. The foundry sits at the foot of Washburn Street in the city.

"EPA is continuing to assist Lockport and Niagara County turn contaminated sites into useful properties that will help clean up the legacy of pollution, redevelop neighborhoods and create jobs," Enck told those in attendance at a Tuesday morning press conference outside the dilapidated shell that once housed the foundry. "With this grant, Niagara County will help revitalize areas like downtown Lockport, leading to economic growth, and cleaner, healthier communities."

McNall, who emceed the press conference, thanked Enck on behalf of county and city officials, and concurred with Enck's assessment of the challenges facing Lockport and other Niagara County communities that were built on heavy industry.

"Lockport was home to many, many factories, to foundries, to smelters," McNall said. "Our city grew and prospered from those early industries, and it would be unfair to regard them now with mere contempt. They helped build our city, but they also left a negative environmental legacy."

Noting that the official mission statement of the EPA is "to protect human health and the environment," McNall thanked Enck for the agency's generous funding, noting he hoped it was the first of many partnerships between Niagara County and the EPA to clean up industrial brownfields.

"Like the EPA's mission statement, we, too, believe that we must protect human health, and we must protect the environment," McNall said. "In this case, we will leave the environment healthier than when we began. Through controlled demolition processes, a site contaminated with asbestos will be restored."

Updegrove, who chairs the Legislature's economic development committee, praised the EPA's emphasis on working with the county's Center for Economic Development. Updegrove noted that Economic Development Commissioner Sam Ferraro and Niagara County Senior Planner Amy Fisk worked closely with the EPA, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, the City of Lockport, and Sen. George D. Maziarz, R-Newfane, to secure funding for the multi-year Dussault project.

Tuesday's ceremonies also mark the beginning of the rehabilitation project's final phase. Once a controlled demolition is conducted that prevents asbestos at the site from contaminating the surrounding environment, the city is expected to place the property up for sale by spring.

"By spring, this site will be on the market, ready to provide a home to a business -- a home to a business ready to create jobs," Updegrove said. "And they will do so in a community with a healthy environment, where families can grow up safely."

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