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Tue., Oct. 6
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Money awarded for J&L buildings


STAR LAKE — The St. Lawrence County Industrial Development Agency is the recipient of a $175,000 award through the Regional Economic Development Council to assess removal of blighted buildings at the former Jones & Laughlin Steel Co. site, a move forward in the eventual reclamation of the property.

“To me, it’s more positive momentum,” said Fine Supervisor Mark C. Hall, a member of the IDA. “There are steps in the right direction.”

Much of the J&L site in the town of Clifton is heavily polluted. Identifying the extent of the environmental contamination has been going on for years. In the meantime, about a dozen buildings remain on the property as an unfortunate landmark and possible contaminant themselves, but it has been difficult to find money to remove them because state Department of Environmental Conservation programs are not designed toward demolition.

People involved in plotting out the remediation work decided part of the immediate attention should focus on removal of the buildings.

“This is a long-term project no matter how it happens,” Mr. Hall said. “We’re just sick of looking at the buildings and sick of that reminder.”

The IDA is working with the DEC and the Development Authority of the North Country to map out a strategy. The money awarded will help the IDA come up with engineered cost estimates for demolition.

“We won’t be guessing in the dark about what it’s going to cost,” Mr. Hall said.

The estimates and other work at the site by DEC and a consultant for the county might be used to leverage future building demolition funding.

The 54-acre property is being investigated as two separate pieces. An 18-acre parcel was split off with the presumption it was less polluted. Field work conducted by consultant Camp, Dresser & McKee has been completed, confirming that piece is relatively uncontaminated, Mr. Hall said.

The next challenge will be for the county to obtain a release of liability and to subdivide the property from the remaining 36 acres so it can be available for development.

The rest of the property — including the buildings, oil spill area and other contaminants — is on the state Superfund Registry and additional fieldwork is being conducted.

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