Karg site to be remediated by March

JOHNSTOWN – The state Department of Environmental Conservation is working with the city to totally clean up remaining pollutants and remediate the former Karg Bros. tannery site by March, city officials were told this week.

The city will also be getting a boost from Fulton County government with 17,000 cubic yards of clean dirt fill for the site, so it can eventually be redeveloped, officials said.

City Engineer Chandra Cotter said today the original estimate for remediation was more than $720,000, but with the fill provided, the only costs to the city will be labor and equipment. To remediate the site may eventually cost the city nothing, she said.

Karg Bros. tannery – encompassing a widespread area east of Crescendoe Road, East Canal Street and East Fulton Street – was shut down in the mid-1990s and the site was razed about 2000.

In her report to the Common Council Monday, Cotter indicated a long-awaited report by city consultant Arcadis-US of Clifton Park working with DEC on cleanup of the North Perry Street property is done. In summary, she said DEC indicated that “ideally” the state would like to complete Karg’s work and be able to issue a “No Further Action Record of Decision” report to the city by March.

The goal is to eventually make the site shovel-ready for redevelopment. The city still has $78,000 remaining in an existing Environmental Restoration Program Grant.

“This has been a long journey,” Mayor Sarah Slingerland said. “There has been a significant measure of progress.”

Cotter noted certain tasks must be performed to support redevelopment of the Karg parcel. An interim remedial measure is to place a demarcation layer and two feet of clean soil over areas of the site not currently covered by concrete or asphalt. It was also suggested the concrete and asphalt areas eventually receive the same cover.

Legal mechanisms to prevent future use of the groundwater and control future subsurface work at the site would also be required.

Cotter said the city can do certain things to meet the DEC goal of remediation by March. She noted the city’s Comprehensive Plan has indicated the city should consider building a Center City Park in the area of the former tannery. Cotter said the city can still consider that and update the plan to take into consideration DEC requirements.

Cotter said 17,000 cubic yards of fill will be needed and the Fulton County Department of Solid Waste indicated it can provide that. Equipment and labor for the loading, transportation, placement and grading of the fill will be needed at the site and the city Department of Public Works will be used.

An initial estimate shows that to load, haul, place and grade at the site would take one DPW crew about two weeks, Cotter said. The costs to the city would be its time, fuel and equipment usage.

“It will be really nice to get that covered up,” said 2nd Ward Councilman Chris Foss.

With completion of work, Cotter said DEC indicated the site can eventually be reclassified from one that had years of industrial and commercial use to a “restricted residential” classification.

In a letter to Cotter and city officials, Arcadis-US Vice President Bruce Nelson wrote about “opportunities that exist” for the city to leverage the remaining Environmental Restoration Program grant money to make the site as “ready as possible” for reuse consistent with the city’s Comprehensive Plan.

Nelson said DEC wants to address a separate parcel at 6 Crescendoe Road under a different program and is discussing remedial options with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at [email protected].

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