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'BROWNFIELD' FUNDS SOUGHT FOR ROBLIN STEEL SITE

North Tonawanda is seeking state "brownfield" funds to restore the contaminated former Roblin Steel property to a marketable, tax-producing industrial site.

Community Development Director Michele A. Tow is preparing a city application for environmental restoration project funds under the $1.75 billion state Clearwater/Clean Air Bond Act.

The state fund was established for the investigation and cleanup of municipally owned contaminated properties (brownfields).

The brownfields program is administered by the state Department of Environmental Conservation and provides reimbursement of 75 percent of investigation costs, Ms. Tow said.

She, Mayor James A. McGinnis and and City Engineer Dale W. Marshall met with DEC officials to discuss the use of environmental restoration funds to investigate the city-owned portion of the former Roblin site (11.9 acres of the total 29-acre site) acquired by the city through back tax foreclosure.

"When the investigation phase has been completed, the city will have the option of applying for resources to assist in the remediation of the site so it can be used again for industrial development," Ms. Tow said.

The $1.75 billion bond act established a $200 million Environmental Restoration Project Fund, known as the brownfield program. It provides grants to municipalities for cleanup of contaminated properties. If an investigation is completed the municipality may then apply for another grant to clean up the property.

These properties may then be marketed for redevelopment to bring viable business or industry into a community. She estimated that the first phase, contamination investigation, would cost $112,000.

Under the state act, 75 percent or $84,000 would be covered by the state, and 25 percent, $28,000, by the city.

The DEC is expected to make a decision on the application within 60 days, Ms. Tow said.

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