County to spend $575,000 to remove dilapidated structures at former J & L site in Newton Falls
Sunday, December 10, 2017 - 4:13 pm

By JIMMY LAWTON

NEWTON FALLS – St. Lawrence County will use two grants totaling $575,000 to assist with the abatement, demolition and removal of dilapidated structures at the former J&L Steel Site near Star Lake.

The Northern Border Regional Commission and the New York State Department of Conservation Adirondack Park Smart Growth Implementation Grant Program awarded the funding.

Over the past year, the county has been active in remediating abandoned properties and working to get them back on to the tax rolls.

The county acquired the J&L property in 2013 under a “liability release” agreement, which frees it from liability for environmental contamination there. The vast property, which held 11 buildings as part of the company’s iron ore mining and processing operation, contains areas listed as state Superfund sites.

The county began tearing down buildings there last fall with an eye towards redevelopment.

At its height, the Jones and Laughlin Steel Corporation fed steel plants in Pennsylvania and Ohio an average of 1 million tons of iron ore sinter from the mine, known as Benson Mines, before being sold. The ore was shipped down the Adirondack rail line of the New York Central from Clifton, through Harrisville, to Carthage and down to Watertown.

The mine supported nearly 2,000 people in the region, and when it finally closed in the summer of 1978, 365 people lost their jobs. An auction in 1980 saw all of the equipment and materials at the site sold off, leaving empty vacant buildings which fell into a state of serious disrepair.