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Funding approved for Lyons Falls mill site project

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A project to redevelop the Lyons Falls Pulp & Paper plant is now slated to break ground, as the Lewis County Development Corp. signed a $330,000 contract with the North Country Regional Economic Development Council on Monday.

The LCDC acquired the funding to start the first stages of the project, which will rehabilitate the site of the former paper mill on Center Street, which shut down in 2001, into an industrial business park. The funding will pay for a range of engineering costs, including an environmental study and planning for permitting and redevelopment.

This organization “has been working for four to five years to begin a project at the Lyons Falls mill site,” said LCDC Corp. President Larry L. Dolhof in a released statement. “Our organization is committed to making a difference in Lewis County, and this project has great long-term potential.”

Officials say redeveloping the site, which the LCDC purchased for $150,000 in 2011, will spur economic growth and create jobs in southern Lewis and northern Oneida counties. The corporation plans to spend about $495,000 for the first phase of the project to start developing the 9.4-acre site. As additional funding is secured, it will seek to demolish buildings at the site to create a mixed-use business park with green-energy industries.

Short-term economic benefits from the project include jobs created by engineering and demolition work. As the site becomes developed, up to 100 jobs could be created by warehouse and biofuel operations, a forest products educational facility and other buildings.

State Sen. Joseph A. Griffo, R-Rome, lauded the decision to fund the project, which has been long in the making.

“It’s a credit to the LCDC that they remained committed to making sure the cleanup went forward,” he said in a released statement. “Once upon a time, the mill site was a major employer in the region, and we’re convinced that one day the site will again employ Lewis and Oneida counties residents.”

Tony Collins, co-chair of the North Country Regional Economic Development Council and president of Clarkson University, said the project should galvanize the local economy by providing a wealth of job opportunities.

The project “represents the vision established to energize our manufacturing industries and small business communities, mobilize opportunities for entrepreneurs, and open a new gateway for green energy,” he said in a released statement.

Spearheaded by the village of Lyons Falls, a state-funded study conducted by Elan Planning, Design & Landscape Architecture of Saratoga Springs this year also determined that the Lyons Falls mill has potential for economic growth. The study concluded that the site could be redeveloped for clean energy production and support facilities for back country and adventure tourism, gun-cleaning-related industries, manufacturing of agricultural products and other uses.

That study, which is part of the village’s community plan, is expected to be approved by the Board of Trustees this summer.

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