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Lewis economic development report touts Lyons Falls project

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LOWVILLE — A Lewis County economic development progress report touts the Lyons Falls revitalization efforts as a prime project.

“The highlight of this year continues to be the Village of Lyons Falls and the steps that have been taken in that municipality to revitalize the community and the mill site,” states the county Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy Committee’s annual progress report for 2012.

The Lewis County Development Corp., which is working to redevelop the former Lyons Falls Pulp & Paper plant as a business park, has contracted with an engineering firm for evaluation of hazardous materials contamination, demolition design and structural analysis using $330,000 in 2011 state funding.

The corporation in December additionally was granted $1 million toward the project, which is expected to cost about $5 million.

The corporation also sought $325,000 from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration, but the application was denied.

Renee J. Beyer, Lewis County’s senior planner, said an application likely will be sent again this year to the federal agency. However, she said, “the stars have to be aligned” to receive EDA funding for a project.

The report notes that a rail spur connection to the mill is to be rehabilitated late this year using $95,320 in grant funding, an adjacent hydroelectric plant operated by Northbrook Lyons Falls recently completed a project to remediate asbestos and stabilize its building and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has offered technical assistance to Lyons Falls for environmental investigation at several sites, including the old mill.

Other priorities listed in the report include renewable energy development, microenterprise fund development, affordable housing initiatives, tourism initiative, agriculture industry development, water and wastewater systems and a rails-to-trails system.

The Lewis County Development Corp. recently was awarded a $375,000 state grant to help redevelop a small dam in Croghan, an informal regional group is touting biomass power and wind farms in Martinsburg and Copenhagen remain in the works, the report states. However, a community manure digester project has stalled.

The county micro-loan program has been moved to the Lewis County Industrial Development Agency, and Snow Belt Housing Co. Inc. is working on affordable housing development. However, a fledgling tourism council disbanded and, while several individuals continue to work on the initiative, funding and manpower are difficult to obtain.

In the agricultural sector, a meat-processing facility has expanded, the county’s lone vineyard continues to grow and a brewery may be in the works in Lowville.

The county Economic Development and Planning office also is working with several municipalities on water and sewer projects and administering a pair of grants intended to help consolidate operations.

However, the long-discussed rails-to-trails project is in limbo after county lawmakers decided not to pursue it.

Quarterly meetings of the 20-member committee and the annual report help local officials retain focus on potential projects, said longtime committee Chairman Richard H. Porter, also the IDA’s executive director.

“This committee is very diverse,” he said.

The annual report has been posted on the Economic Development & Planning Department Web page at www.lewiscountyny.org/content/Generic/View/89.

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