Senator Farley And Governor Announces Brownfields Grant For Fulton County

Hugh T. Farley

February 22, 2005

State Senator Hugh T. Farley (R,C - Schenectady) and Governor George E. Pataki today announced an $185,000 Clean Water/Clean Air Bond Act grant to the City of Johnstown for the investigation of environmental contamination at the Former Karg Brothers Tannery and additional off-site properties in Johnstown, Fulton County.

"New York is leading the nation in environmental protection and our new and improved Brownfields program is making great strides in cleaning up abandoned properties and turning them into community assets," Governor Pataki said. "With this funding, the City of Johnstown can work toward reuse of the property and help to make this former economic powerhouse a productive and beneficial addition to the local economy."

The City of Johnstown acquired the property, located at 6-20 East Fulton Street, in 1997 and plans to redevelop the site for commercial and/or light industrial use. The grant will allow the City to investigate the tannery and adjacent properties, including two abandoned gas stations to the west and 13 residences to the north.

Senator Hugh T. Farley said, "This is extremely positive news for the City of Johnstown. This brownfields grant is a major step in enabling the City to resolve environmental concerns and return this site to productive use. Governor Pataki's efforts and initiatives for cleaning up old industrial sites have been extremely important and beneficial for the State, especially for cities like Johnstown."

Assemblyman Marc Butler said, "We have been working closely with the City of Johnstown and the State for several years to make the Karg Leather site once again a productive property. With this grant, Governor Pataki has helped to move this process forward, and it's an important step as we continue to work to revive and expand the local economy."

Johnstown Mayor Bob Schultz said, "The Brownfields Grant of $185,000 is greatly appreciated by the City of Johnstown. And this grant and the Clean Water/Clean Air Bond Act of 1996 that makes this grant possible reflects Governor Pataki's commitment to the redevelopment of small upstate cities. Together we make a great New York State. The return of Karg Brothers property to a constructive use within the City is a great step in the right direction for the City of Johnstown."

Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Acting Commissioner Denise M. Sheehan said, "The rich leather tanning history of Fulton County helped to make the area a world leader in the industry. Unfortunately, many of these facilities have been closed in recent decades and the potential for environmental contamination hinders property redevelopment, leaving these once booming properties abandoned. Thanks to the efforts of Governor Pataki, we have now awarded over $1 million for the investigation and cleanup of former tannery sites in Fulton County alone, renewing these properties' environmental health and creating new business opportunities."

In 2001, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) performed a Comprehensive Environmental Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) removal action that resulted in the removal of all containerized wastes, residues, and liquids along with the decontamination and demolition of contaminated building structures at this site. An EPA site assessment revealed metals contamination in the sediments of the nearby Cayadutta Creek, groundwater, and site soils, as well as in nearby residences.

Today's grant will fund an investigation that will include on-site and off-site surface and subsurface soil sampling, sediment sampling, and groundwater investigation. Based on the investigation results, a determination will be made on the remediation activities necessary to make the site safe for reuse.

The $1.75 billion Clean Water/Clean Air Bond Act, proposed by Governor Pataki and approved by voters in November 1996, included $200 million for Environmental Restoration Program (ERP) grants to municipalities for costs associated with the investigation and cleanup of brownfields. Brownfields are abandoned or underused properties whose redevelopment and reuse is hindered by known or potential environmental contamination.

As a result of historic legislation signed by Governor Pataki in October 2003 to refinance and reform the State's Superfund and Brownfield programs, ERP grants now provide up to 90 percent of the eligible costs of investigation or cleanup. The City of Johnstown is eligible for state assistance through the ERP because it is not responsible for having caused the contamination.

Since 1995, more than $59 million in Bond Act funding has been committed for 156 investigation and cleanup projects at brownfield sites throughout New York State. The total Bond Act funding includes 129 investigation projects totaling $24.7 million and 27 remediation projects totaling $34.4 million.

Other applications are currently under review by DEC and additional grants are anticipated in the near future.