North Country Revelopment Task Force, RACER to gather community input on former GM site
By ANDY GARDNER
MASSENA -- The community will have a say in crafting a vision for the former General Motors site, Gary Bowitch, an environmental attorney for St. Lawrence County and the North Country Revelopment Task Force said Thursday.
The format has yet to be determined, whether it will be through public forums or online.“There are lots of different tools to solicit public feedback,” Bowitch said.
The site is being marketed through a $400,000 Brownfield Opportunity Area (BOA) grant from the New York State Department of State.
Heidi Ames of the St. Lawrence County Planning Office said the current stage of the Brownfield project will yield revitalization plans and strategies.
Bowitch noted that the BOA program is unique in that it takes into account a community’s desires.
“It includes community vision for redevelopment, rather than just big developers,” he stated.
He pointed out that Massena’s Brownfield site is unusual because most of the time, a municipality is dealing with a number of contaminated sites and has to identify from that several key locations.
“Our BOA area and our site are one in the same,” he said.
He also said since the clean-up has been ongoing, RACER and the task force know exactly what is there in terms of contamination. In this case, it’s high levels of polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) which is being excavated and clean fill put in its place.
“We know everything about the site because it’s being investigated and being cleaned up,” Bowitch said.
John MacLeod of the Department of State said although the governor’s proposed budget doesn’t include BOA money, the GM project is safe, since it got the grant two years ago.
The grant can advance 25 percent of the money, but after that won’t pay until work is actually completed.