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Niagara Town Board looks into rehabbing Military Road site

TOWN OF NIAGARA – The Town Board is going to examine whether it should acquire and rehabilitate a strip mall property on Military Road for resale.

Supervisor Lee S. Wallace advised the board at a work session last week that it can look into taking ownership of 4435-4445 Grauer Road from Niagara County, clean it up and sell it so it can become a taxable property again.

Wallace said the address was owned by Paul A. Grenga and is an environmental “hot spot” and classified as a brownfield by the state Department of Environmental Conservation. Property taxes are owed to the county, but foreclosure proceedings were not begun because of the classification.

Wallace, who described the effort as “a way of cleaning up (one of the) messes” in the town, said he has been dealing with Amy E. Fisk of the county Department of Economic Development to create what would be a pilot program for the project.

The tax debt would be absorbed by the county, and grant money from the federal Superfund program could fund the cleanup.

The property, most recently the site of Culbert’s Wholesale Tire, also was once the location of a pizzeria and a gas station, the supervisor said.

Wallace said he was not sure whether a fuel tank is underground.

Although borings by the federal Environmental Protection Agency found no readings of strong contaminants, Wallace said, the town will have a second round done. He said officials want to be sure that the land is safe.

The building would be demolished in the process. Once rehabilitated, the land, in a commercial area at the intersection of Military and Grauer Road, would be sold for development, according to Wallace.

The town would collect any revenue from the sale, Wallace said.

Deputy Supervisor Charles F. Teixeira said that he liked the idea of cleaning up these lands for reuse but that he is opposed to the town “becoming a landlord.”