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Officials discuss options for redeveloping brownfields after discovery of contaminants

Environmental tests detected potentially hazardous materials at two brownfield sites under study in Lackawanna, but the results should not have a major impact on redevelopment, officials said Monday.

During a public information meeting in City Hall, officials discussed test results from a parcel of six vacant lots at Ridge Road and Wasson Avenue and at the city's old incinerator beyond the eastern end of Veterans Stadium. Suggestions for redevelopment also were offered.

Those properties were part of a citywide inventory of potential redevelopment sites, according to Lou Zicari from the University at Buffalo's Center for Integrated Waste Management. The city hired the university to help manage a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, as well as Malcolm Pirnie Inc. as its environmental consultant.

James J. Richert, a senior project hydrogeologist for Malcolm Pirnie, said semi-volatile organic compounds and metals were detected at both locations.

At Ridge Road, potential risks could be handled by capping the site and then placing a slab, a parking lot, a sidewalk or clean soil there, Richert said.

If the site were to remain undeveloped, he said, it could be fenced in, but that typically does not last long in urban settings.

Removing contaminated soil would be cost-prohibitive, Richert said, adding: "It's really not bad enough to warrant removal."

At the incinerator site, semi-volatile organic compounds were detected in the subsurface soil and fill, and metals in the ash sediment and subsurface, Richert said. "We are recommending that the incinerator ash under that building be removed," he said.

Metals testing detected potentially hazardous levels of copper, chromium and zinc, he said.

Cleanup options, subject to approval by the state Department of Environmental Conservation, will be presented Oct. 18 during another public meeting.

Malcolm Pirnie contracted with Wendel Duchscherer Architects & Engineers to develop potential re-uses for the sites.

There are two for Ridge Road, said Robert J. Blood of Wendel Duchscherer. One is 8,000 square feet of office and retail space fronted on Ridge Road, with parking behind. The other is for parking in front, with about 3,000 to 4,000 square feet of commercial space -- possibly a fast-food restaurant -- set to the rear.

For the incinerator site, Blood presented two recreation-related options: parkland with trails and a second softball field adjacent to Veterans Stadium.

"We have to clean these up sooner or later," Mayor Norman L. Polanski Jr. said. Of the proposed re-uses, he said: "These are only suggestions."

e-mail: jhabuda@buffnews.com

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