Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

Local News

February 24, 2012

There's green in those brownfields

ROYALTON — The city will hire Bergmann Associates P.C. to draft a redevelopment plan for brownfield areas along the Erie Canal and Eighteenmile Creek.

The Rochester-based engineering firm will be paid from a $370,000 Brownfield Opportunity Area grant awarded to the city last year by the state Department of State.

Bergmann engineers and planners will work with the city’s BOA steering committee to “come up with a vision for the area” and try advancing redevelopment projects on particular parcels within the BOA, said Chuck Bell, the city’s director of planning and development. This is “Step 2” in the state’s BOA program and will take about 18 months.

“Part of this program is to have Bergmann bring their expertise and ideas, while working with the public, property owners, and other identified stakeholders to come up with the appropriate vision for the area,” Bell said.

The writeup on the Brownfield Opportunity Area plan is subtitled “Tourism Focus Area,” and reflects a stated goal of Mayor Michael Tucker and the rest of the BOA Steering Committee, Bell said. “I think we all expect to see redevelopment that enhances the visitor/tourist experience.”

With public and property owners’ input, the city previously identified 20 brownfields to be included in the BOA. Brownfield sites are commercial or industrial sites that are abandoned or underused, but they’re not necessarily contaminated.

In addition to identifying a general vision for the BOA, Bell said Bergmann associates will start redevelopment work at particular properties where little or no pollution cleanup work is needed.

Three city-owned parcels fit the bill: the former Dussault Foundry property at the north end of Washburn Street; 33-41 State St. opposite Garlock’s Restaurant; and the Kohl Cycle site, 71 Gooding St. atop the Clinton Street hill/overlooking the Erie Canal.

“The three sites mentioned all have the capacity to be redeveloped in ways that relate to, and enhance our enjoyment of, the canal and/or escarpment,” Bell said. “All could be redeveloped to encourage more active use of our resources for recreational users or visitors,” he said. “I think that could translate to things like lodging, restaurants, boat launches or other boater services, recreational trails, viewing areas, strategic parking enhancements, and small retail enclaves.”

What would constitute success of the brownfields redevelopment? Bell says it’s hard to answer a question like that before Bergmann does its work in coming up with a vision for the area. But one possible outcome that would be desirable: “The initiative could help jump-start the niche retail sector around Lockport’s downtown and could help develop lodging opportunities closer to the city’s main attractions,” Bell said.

Redevelopment work by Bergmann could include writing generic Environmental Impact Statements, and/or writing developer Requests for Proposals for one or more sites. With the Kohl Cycle site particularly, because it’s a very old industrial building, associates could advise which parts or features should be demolished or preserved.

Owners of private property within the BOA also can receive technical assistance from Bergmann if they desire, Bell said. None of the Step 2 money given to the city can go toward environmental cleanup.

The BOA steering committee will reconvene later this year and host public meetings for input into the vision/planning process, Bell said.

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