City moves forward in Brownfield clean-ups

The Gloversville Common Council on Tuesday took several steps to further plans aimed at cleaning up former industrial sites across the city and a deteriorating former glove company building located in a residential neighborhood. (The Leader-Herald/Ashley Onyon)

GLOVERSVILLE — The Common Council on Tuesday took several steps to further plans aimed at cleaning up former industrial areas across the city and a deteriorating former glove company building located in a residential neighborhood.

The Common Council approved a resolution authorizing the city to contract LaBella Associates for $4,000 to prepare a Consolidated Funding Application for a Brownfield Opportunity Area Nomination Study grant through the state Department of State.

Grant funds can be used to develop long-term plans for the areas surrounding identified Brownfield sites, including the preparation of site assessments, revitalization plans and implementation strategies. Approval of completed plans by the state can open additional grant funding opportunities and generates a 6 percent income tax credit applied to projects in the BOA.

Two potential BOAs have been identified covering broad swaths of the city. The first area extends along South Main Street to include the entire Burr Street area, reaching south to include the former Continental Mills site on Beaver Street and the old Independent Leather Manufacturing Corporation site on South Main Street.

The second area extends to the north on South Main Street, beginning at West Pine Street to include several former glove factories on South Main Street including the former site of Zimmer & Son Gloves, extending up to the Cayadutta Creek to encompass Lincoln Street and the former Decca Records plant on Lincoln Street and ending at North Street.

Mayor Vincent DeSantis noted that LaBella Associates will prepare an application for grant funding that would allow the city to complete a study to determine the boundaries of the BOAs for state designation that would then improve the city’s potential for receiving future grant funding for site remediation or for projects within the area of the BOA.

“For example if you go to CFA for somebody who wants to do a redevelopment in a former industrial area either for housing or if the city wanted to apply for parks and recreation for a recreational facility like a spray park,” DeSantis explained, “you get significant additional points in your application if you’re in a BOA and you’re actually reclassifying or converting that for a productive use. A BOA is a way to get extra recognition from the state for grant applications for redevelopment.”

DeSantis expressed optimism over the city’s BOA grant application that shares similarities to the $300,000 Brownfields Assessment grant the city was awarded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on June 5.

The federal grant award will be used to inventory and identify sites for assessment, to assess sites for hazardous substances, to complete cleanup and reuse plans and to conduct community outreach activities.

“This is really kind of a segway into developing a plan over the next few years to actually clean up these old industrial sites that have been barriers to our regeneration efforts in Gloversville for decades. It’s really significant,” DeSantis said.

Additionally, the Common Council on Tuesday approved a motion accepting a proposal from Spectrum Environmental Associates to conduct a Phase II environmental assessment on the former Papa Glove Co. at 70 Division St. for an amount not to exceed $10,000.

An environmental assessment must be completed under state Environmental Quality Review to determine if the city is able to proceed with plans to demolish the long vacant 18,500 square foot building.

The city issued an RFP in March for the demolition of the deteriorating building located in a residential neighborhood. Removal of debris would be completed by the Fulton County Demolition Team to reduce the overall cost of the project. The county team is unable to perform the demolition as it can only take down county owned buildings.

The Fulton County Board of Supervisors previously declined action to take the four-story building through tax foreclosure in 2016 due to liability concerns. The county subsequently removed the delinquent property from the tax rolls.

Fire Chief Thomas Groff noted Tuesday that the environmental assessment will involve site testing for the presence of tannery chemicals on the site and screening for petroleum due to the presence of a 6,000 gallon tank that was abandoned in 1989 located beneath the building.

Groff previously toured the building looking for potential environmental concerns with permission of the current owner, an elderly resident of Tennessee, reporting that the building appeared to be clear of pollution. The city does not believe tanning operations were performed at the former glove company site.

Additionally, Groff said the representative from Spectrum indicated that the assessment tests can be conducted with relative ease due to the building’s overall accessibility, estimating the total cost at $5,000 to $6,000.

Once the assessment is complete, DeSantis said the city will have a better understanding of the potential remediation needs, pointing to the site as an example of the kinds of projects the city may be able to undertake through the Brownfields Assessment grant.

“We will actually get a number of what it costs to remediate all of these sites and this would be one of them, because what [the EPA is] looking for is sites where the cleanup is not too expensive and it’s a significant benefit to the neighborhood that surrounds the site, so this particular site is kind of a target,” DeSantis said.

By Josh Bovee

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