U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer and U.S Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today announced $1 million in federal funding for communities throughout the Rochester region and Central New York. The funding was allocated through the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Brownfields Program. The Senators said the funding will help localities throughout Rochester and Central New York survey, clean-up, redevelop, and reuse contaminated and abandoned properties. The City of Rochester, Onondaga County Industrial Development, Herkimer County Industrial Development Agency, and the City of Cortland will receive $400,000, $200,000, $200,000, and $200,000 respectively, to tackle the problems posed by brownfield sites, which pose safety risks and suffocate local economies.
“These federal funds will help communities in the Rochester- Finger Lakes Region and Central New York clean up brownfield properties, which has the double benefit of eliminating pollution and putting these parcels of land back into use for economic development. This is a wise investment in the redevelopment of our communities that will help spur job creation and economic growth for years to come,” said Senator Schumer. “I am proud to announce this vital funding and will continue to fight for communities adversely affected by pollution.”
“This funding will help encourage economic development in areas that have great potential to benefit the community but are currently unsuitable for use because of pollution and other environmental risks,” said Senator Gillibrand. “Rather than turning our backs on these sites, these projects will help to clean up and revitalize them into new and vibrant spaces throughout the Rochester region and Central New York. I am very pleased to support this funding for environmental and redevelopment projects that will benefit New Yorkers for generations to come.”
Funds from the EPA grant will be used by communities to take inventory, characterize, assess, and conduct planning and community outreach related to their respective brownfield sites. Many sites are abandoned and unsuitable for redevelopment, dragging on the local economies in Upstate NY. According to various studies, residential property values increase between 5 percent and 15 percent when a nearby brownfield site is cleaned up.
The City of Rochester has received a total of $400,000 in Brownfield grants. $200,000 will be used for Brownfields petroleum cleanup to clean up a vacant site at 121-123 Reynolds St, as well as community engagement and post-cleanup monitoring efforts. Additionally, $200,000 has been awarded for the City to assess hazardous substance sites across the city.
Onondaga County has received a total of $200,000 for the Onondaga County Industrial Development Agency, where the funds will be used for hazardous substance cleanup efforts. Specifically, funding will go towards clean-up of the former Roth Steel, Inc. site, located at 800 Hiawatha Boulevard West in Syracuse.
Herkimer County has received a total of $200,000 for the Herkimer County Industrial Development Agency, where the funds will be used for assessing environmental sites community-wide. The funding will also help investigate waterways in municipalities like Ilion, Dolgeville, Frankfort, Herkimer Village, the Town of Herkimer, and Little Falls. The county’s urban center will identify brownfield sites in urban centers, which will potentially be redeveloped into affordable housing.
The City of Cortland has received a total of $200,000 to conduct environmental site assessments throughout the community, including at the former Apex Tools site. The funds will also be used to support community engagement activities.
Brownfields are properties where moderate contamination threatens environmental quality and public health and can interfere with productive re-use of the sites. Since its inception, EPA’s brownfields investments have leveraged more than $20 billion in cleanup and redevelopment funding from a variety of public and private sources and have created more than 100,000 jobs.
Brownfields sites range in size from a half an acre to tens of acres and are located in both urban and rural areas. The redevelopment of these sites have proven to be beneficial to communities as they provide a boost to the economy through private investment and business development, job creation, community development, and overall quality of life in the area. On average, $16.11 was leveraged for each EPA brownfields dollar and 8.5 jobs leveraged per $100,000 of EPA brownfields funds expended on assessment, cleanup, and revolving loan fund cooperative agreements.