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North Country Redevelopment Task Force waiting for word on $360,000 grant

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MASSENA - The North Country Redevelopment Task Force may be less than two months away from finding out whether or not they’re the recipients of a $360,000 grant that will be used to help develop a vision for the site of Massena’s former GM plant.

“I describe it as a planning grant that will help identify areas that could be used for redevelopment,” Task Force Chairman Anthony J. “Tony” Arquiett said.

St. Lawrence County Planning Office Grants Manager Heidi Ames said once the contract outlining the grant’s terms is finalized a steering committee will be formed to help facilitate the study.

A kick-off meeting for the grant is scheduled for Feb. 20 at 1 p.m.

Making up the steering committee will be Mr. Arquiett, Massena Town Supervisor Joseph D. Gray, Greater Massena Business Development Corporation Executive Director Thomas Sullivan, Patricia A. Spitzley, who serves as deputy project manager for the RACER (Revitalizing Auto Communities Environmental Response) Trust, as well as a representative from the tribe.

“The program is very flexible,” Ms. Ames said. “There are a lot of possibilities.”

Gary Bowitch, an attorney specializing in environmental law, who has been working with the task force said the study that comes out of this grant can prove to be a valuable document.

“It’s really to advance the site and redevelopment of the site,” he said. “A lot of what RACER is doing is headed in the right direction, but this will help facilitate that.”

Environmental Protection Agency Project Manager Ann E. Kelley said a lack of a vision for the site is one thing many developers have noted when touring the site.

“The lack of a vision for the site has been brought up as an issue,” she said. “This process should help address that.”

While the study is actually a $400,000 project, Ms. Spitzley said the remaining $40,000 will be paid by St. Lawrence County, half in cash and half through in-kind services.

“When folks see this type of cooperation it really helps make the site more attractive,” she said.

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