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Brownfields assessment hearing May 8 in Ogdensburg

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OGDENSBURG — The Department of Planning and Development will host a public meeting at 7 p.m. May 8 at the Dobisky Visitors Center, 100 Riverside Ave., to discuss the city’s brownfield assessment program.

The program is funded by two grants totaling $320,000 that were awarded to Ogdensburg last fall by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The EPA will seek property owners’ permission to conduct environmental site assessments on eligible brownfield sites that are contaminated with petroleum products and/or hazardous substances.

City Planning and Development Director Andrea L. Smith said Tuesday that the assessments include researching a site’s past use — a gas station, for example — and, if necessary, soil borings and other tests to determine the extent of contamination.

The cost of each assessment will vary with the size of the property and the scope of the work.

“This is all going to be site specific,” Ms. Smith said.

Property owners will not have to contribute to the cost of investigation.

The EPA, according to Ms. Smith, defines a brownfield site as “real property, the expansion, redevelopment or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant or contaminant.”

Priority brownfield sites will focus specifically on the city’s Waterfront Brownfield Opportunity Area, which is a 330-acre section of waterfront property that includes at least 15 known brownfield sites.

Many more parcels within the zone are suspected of contamination.

A main goal of the assessment program, Ms. Smith said, will be to educate property owners and community stakeholders on the benefits of assessing and cleaning up waterfront brownfield sites to achieve:

n Mixed land and water-related uses to ensure that working waterfronts and water-dependent and public-access uses remain a viable and stable part of the waterfront.

n Compact community design to optimize waterfront and water-based activities.

n A range of housing opportunities and choices to meet the needs of seasonal and permanent residents.

n Walkable waterfronts and shoreline communities with visual and physical access to the waterfront for public use.

The EPA grants also will be used to conduct community outreach and cleanup planning activities.

Ogdensburg is working with environmental engineering consultants Barton & Loguidice in the program.

Staff will be available from 4 to 5:30 p.m. May 8 to assist anyone who is unable to attend the meeting.

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