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Wilna council sends letters to legislators concerning Crown Cleaners site

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CARTHAGE — The problem has been identified and the remedy planned. Now all that is needed is funding to complete cleanup of the former Crown Cleaners site on Route 3.

The Herrings site has turned up on the SeeClickFix website that draws attention to neighborhood issues in hopes of having them fixed. Reported by Daniel J. Powell, the site says, “When is this eyesore going to be torn down? For over 30 years, this site has sat empty and allowed to fall down. No answers about the contamination of the groundwater or the status of the site. Also the site is not secure and a potential for injury to anyone who enters. If this is taken care of, NYS Route 3 could be straightened to remove that dangerous curve in the highway. Who owns this site and is responsible anyway? When will something be done?”

Town of Wilna officials are asking the latter question also.

The 9-acre site was placed on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Superfund list in 1991 because of ground and water contamination from the former dry cleaning facility. After years of testing and study, EPA finalized its cleanup plan in April 2012.

The restoration of the property would include demolition of the main building, extraction of contaminated soil and sediment with volatile organic compounds, which will be disposed of at an off-site facility, and covering of soil containing polycyclic aromatic compounds with clean soil on site. In addition, the groundwater will be treated using oxidants and wetlands will be restored.

Wilna took ownership of the property at 3595 Route 3 on June 18.

Following the cleanup, the town plans to turn the parcel into a park.

The problem now is funding.

At the suggestion of River Area Council of Governments circuit rider Kathleen M. Amyot, the town sent letters to state legislators to keep the Crown Cleaner cleanup “on the radar.”

The correspondence states, “Based upon shared information and legal assurances, the town was led to believe EPA would proceed with the $7.6 million building demolition and soil and water remediation efforts to the level that would allow construction of an active Waterfront Recreation Park Facility.”

The document signed by town Supervisor Paul H. Smith goes on to say the funding secured to complete the project did not carry over to 2013.

“Therefore, we find ourselves in a compromising position,” the letter says. “The town owns the land but EPA lacks the needed funding to implement recommendations outlined in the record of decision.”

The letter was sent to U.S. Sens. Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten E. Gillibrand, both D-N.Y.; Rep. William L. Owens, D-Plattsburgh; state Sen. Patricia A. Ritchie, R-Heuvelton; Assemblyman Kenneth D. Blankenbush, R-Black River; Judy Drabicki, regional director of the state Department of Environmental Conservation, Pamela N. Tames of the EPA and Herrings Mayor Richard A. Beirman.

Mrs. Amyot said the purpose of the letter is for “nudging a little at the legislative level” so that when funding is available, this project will be considered.

“How soon that will happen — who knows? Don’t expect it tomorrow,” she said.

EPA has compiled a community involvement plan which, along with the final feasibility study and two-volume final remedial investigation report, is available for public viewing at the Carthage Free Library, 412 Budd St.

The documents contain information about on-site activities, the remediation process, the history of the site and how to contact EPA and legislative representatives.

Mrs. Amyot has said in the past that letter-writing campaigns work to help keep elected officials aware that the matter is of importance.

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