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Niagara County wins $400,000 brownfields grant

LOCKPORT – Niagara County, which operates its own Brownfields Development Corp. to fund cleanups of old industrial sites, was the only county in New York State to win a $400,000 brownfields grant from the federal government this year.

“Niagara County has made reclaiming lands contaminated by industrial and commercial processes a top priority of its economic development efforts over the past dozen years,” said County Legislature Majority Leader Richard E. Updegrove, R-Lockport.

The funding request was developed by Brownfields Development Corp. President Amy E. Fisk, a senior planner for the county. The money will be used to assess potential brownfield sites for rehabilitation. The award is split into $200,000 halves, one for petroleum-contaminated sites, the other for hazardous substance sites.

The county placed an emphasis on assessing parcels whose property taxes are delinquent. The county has declined to foreclose on such sites in recent years because of the potential cleanup costs. “Determining the level of contamination will allow these properties to be remediated and returned to productive use, returning them to the tax rolls and allowing the private sector to create jobs there,” Updegrove said. “Cleaning up and reinvesting in these properties protects the environment, reduces blight, and takes development pressures off green spaces and working lands.”