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Ogdensburg applies for new cleanup grant

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OGDENSBURG — The city is seeking funds to clean up waste-contaminated property, including a prominent former industrial site along the St. Lawrence River.

Last week the City Council approved a resolution authorizing City Manager John M. Pinkerton to submit a Brownfields Revolving Loan Fund application to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Ogdensburg will seek $1 million, the maximum available, to fund demolition and cleanup projects around the city, but with a particular focus on the Augsbury Tank Farm property on Riverside Avenue, said Andrea L. Smith, interim city planner.

“We’re going to mention notably the Augsbury property, but the funds would not be limited there,” she said. “There will be priority given to eligible sites within the established Brownfields Opportunity Area, but anybody would be eligible to apply from anywhere within the bounds of the city.”

Ogdensburg’s Brownfields Opportunity Area encompasses four zones hugging the St. Lawrence and Oswegatchie rivers: the Augsbury Tank Farm, the Diamond/Shade Roller district, the Marina District and the Fort de la Presentation site. Ms. Smith said cleaning those areas would be possible only with federal money.

“We have stated that there’s insufficient funds at both the state and local level for the cleanup,” she said. “Receiving a Revolving Loan Fund grant could be a key to cleaning up the Augsbury property.”

If awarded, the Ogdensburg Growth Fund and Development Corp. would use the grant to establish a loan fund. Public and private entities within the city could apply to the Growth Fund for loans and subgrants for cleanup.

Though the Growth Fund will administer the grant and approve applications, City Council members have asked to review applicants as well.

“I think it is important to pass them by the council,” said Mayor William D. Nelson. “It would be a good thing to try to get input.”

The grant’s flexibility would benefit projects on the 23-acre Augsbury property, which actually is divided into four parcels owned by the city, the Sybron NY Corp., the Kiwanis Club and MCYC Corp.

“Since the Augsbury property is privately owned, we would have to have the permission and cooperation of the current owners to apply for money on their behalf or do any work,” Ms. Smith said. “On the other hand, if awarded, the funds would be available both for the city and for private entrepreneurs to apply for.”

The city used a different $1 million Brownfields Revolving Loan Fund grant for demolition and cleanup at the former Standard Shade Roller factory site.

That work was mostly completed this spring, but some residual soil contamination remains.

“All of the money in that grant is currently spoken for,” Ms. Smith said. “We are one of the few success stories for this region, and for that we get kudos.”

Ms. Smith said not everyone can apply for these grants.

“The fund can be used only by what is called a ‘bona fide prospective purchaser’ or a party that is not responsible for the contamination,” she said. “Luckily, earlier this year we were awarded assessment funds, which is the key to being determined a ‘bona fide prospective purchaser.’”

In May, Ogdensburg received two grants totaling $320,000 to assess pollution on property throughout the city.

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