Grant Funds To Help Vacant Industrial Sites

Chautauqua County is hoping to help fill some of its former industrial sites that are now empty, primarily in both Dunkirk and Jamestown.

During a recent meeting of the county Industrial Development Agency, board members unanimously accepted a $600,000 grant from the United States Environmental Protection Agency Grant. Coupled with funding the agency secured from the county, the grant will enable the organization to establish a new Revolving Loan Fund to provide both loans and subgrants to facilitate brownfield remediation and redevelopment of key properties.

The USEPA describes a brownfield as a property, the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant.

Mark Geise, Deputy County Executive of Economic Development and county IDA Chief Executive Officer stated, “We appreciate this grant award and are eager to develop this program. This funding is one more tool in our toolbox and will provide critical gap financing to make complicated brownfield remediation and redevelopment projects feasible.”

During the meeting Geise noted how there are a lot of brownfields in the county and some may have some level of contamination. “For a couple of years now we’ve been actively looking at those sites, identifying them and evaluating them. One of the sticking points, in terms of getting those into active use, is doing the environmental due diligence and also remediating them. Certainly developers looking at those sites don’t always have the funding to go and do that,” he said.

This revolving loan, Geise explained, will address that issue. “We’re excited about this to start working on getting these brownfields back into active use,” he said.

Nate Aldrich, economic development coordinator with the county IDA, said they had to identify sites in the grant application. He did not say which sites were highlighted, however, he did note they were primarily in the Jamestown and Dunkirk communities.

Geise noted that typically brownfields are located in areas where development belongs. “The infrastructure is already in place. It’s not like a greenfield where you’ve got to extend water and sewer which can be very expensive. They’re already zoned correctly and typically the neighbors are used to activity there,” he said.

The biggest problem, Geise noted, is the small size. “Unfortunately, a lot of them aren’t that big. We’re looking for big sites but there are certainly attractive sites for us to be concentrating on,” he said.

Aldrich said the loan program will formally be rolled out in the fall.


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