By GREGORY BACON
Chautauqua County hopes to help fill in some of its now empty former industrial sites, primarily in Dunkirk and Jamestown.
At the county’s recent Industrial Development Agency meeting, council members unanimously accepted a $600,000 grant from the United States Environmental Protection Agency. Coupled with funding the agency has secured from the county, this grant will allow the organization to establish a new revolving loan fund to provide both loans and sub-grants to facilitate brownfields remediation and redevelopment of key properties.
The USEPA describes a brownfield as a property whose expansion, redevelopment, or reuse may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant.
Mark Geise, County Assistant Director of Economic Development and County IDA General Manager, said: “We appreciate this grant and look forward to expanding this program. This funding is one more tool in our toolbox and will provide critical gap funding to make complex brownfield remediation and redevelopment projects feasible.
During the meeting, Geise noted that there are a lot of brownfield sites in the county and some may have some level of contamination. “For the past few years, we have been actively looking at these sites, identifying them and evaluating them. One of the sticking points, in terms of actively using these, is doing environmental due diligence and fixing them. It is certain that the developers who visit these sites do not always have the necessary funds to do so. » he said.
This revolving loan, Geise explained, will solve that problem. “We are excited to begin work on bringing these brownfields back into active service,” he said.
Nate Aldrich, economic development coordinator with the county’s IDA, said they needed to identify the sites in the grant application. He did not say which sites were highlighted, however, he noted that they were mainly in the communities of Jamestown and Dunkirk.
Geise noted that brownfields are usually located in areas where the development belongs. “The infrastructure is already in place. It’s not like a virgin land where you have to extend water and sewer, which can be very expensive. They are already properly zoned and generally the neighbors are used to doing activities there,” he said.
The biggest issue, Geise noted, is the small size. “Unfortunately, a lot of them aren’t that big. We are looking for great sites, but there are certainly attractive sites to focus on,” he said.
Aldrich said the loan program will officially launch in the fall.