Whitehall OKs brownfields grant application

 

The town is applying for a grant that may one day lead to the revitalization of brownfield sites within the community.

During last Wednesday’s meeting, the board passed a resolution approving Darlene Devoe from Renaissance Grants and Planning to submit a step one application for the Brownfield Opportunity Areas program. The deadline is March 29.

Under the BOA program, the New York Department of State provides financial and technical assistance to municipalities and community-based organizations for revitalization plans, implementation strategies and site assessments for areas affected by the presence of brownfield sites.

Brownfield sites are abandoned or underused industrial and commercial facilities that may be contaminated by low concentrations of hazardous waste or pollution but that have the potential to be reused once they are cleaned up.

An example site could be an abandoned gas station, such as the one at the corner of Poultney and Williams Streets. According to town officials, Whitehall has about a dozen sites that would constitute brownfields.

The BOA program is divided into three stages and communities may enter at whichever step they deem most appropriate.

Step one involves developing a prenomination study. Devoe says this step is about gathering information, identifying the different sites and what needs to be done.

“The program engages the community to decide for itself what it wants to be,” she said.

Step two, known as nomination, involves selection of a site and working with the public to determine what that site will be used for. It also includes a market analysis and identifying developers who may be interested in the site.

The third step, the implementation strategy, is the process of putting the plan into action.

DeVoe called the brownfields process “one of the best programs I’ve come across because it touches on all areas,” adding that every component of a community’s master plan is addressed.

If accepted, Whitehall could receive up to 90 percent of the total eligible project costs to complete its redevelopment and implementation strategies. The town is responsible for the remaining 10 percent.

DeVoe said Fort Edward has successfully applied for a brownfields grant and Whitehall’s application has an excellent opportunity to be accepted as well.

Officials should know by May whether their application was accepted.

The town also approved DeVoe to apply for a Local Government Efficiency grant on behalf of the town that could provide up to $400,000 for improvements to the former Skenesborough firehouse so multiple government entities could share the building. Besides the town, the building could potentially house the village, both court systems (village and court) and the police department.

The town would be responsible for 10 percent of whatever it receives.

The latter grant could actually strengthen the brownfields application since the firehouse could be considered a BOA site, DeVoe said.

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