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RACER officials tell task force they may not have enough money to finish cleaning former GM site

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MASSENA - Revitalizing Auto Communities Environmental Response Trust officials told General Motors Task Force members Thursday that with $48 million spent so far on the environmental cleanup of the former GM site, they might not have enough money to finish the job.

“Once you go underground you can never predict what is going to happen,” RACER Cleanup Manager M. Brendan Mullen said when asked what work is left.

Cleanup at the property began in April 2011 and is slated for completion in 2016.

Should RACER run out of money, task force member Real “Frenchie” Coupal said it was his understanding there is a pool of money set aside for additional or unanticipated expenses.

Deputy Redevelopment Manager Patricia A. Spitzley said accessing that money isn’t as simple as one might think. Representatives of the agency’s other properties must also agree to the expenditure.

Task force member Ronald P. McDougall said the $48 million spent so far doesn’t include money spent on the demolition of the former plant.

“That wasn’t required by the EPA; that was a decision made by the trust,” he said.

Ms. Spitzley said demolition of former plant buildings helps to make the properties more marketable.

“It made sense to start with a clean slab and a clean site,” she said. “It was a decision made by RACER with input from our experts in the field.”

While the property is zoned industrial and being marketed as such, task force member and Business Development Corp. for a Greater Massena Executive Director Thomas J. Sullivan asked whether the property must be used for industrial purposes.

“Do yo see any changes in status for the property? Or is it only industrial?” he asked.

Ms. Spitzley said other uses are possible.

“It wouldn’t be impossible, but it’s unlikely,” said EPA Project Manager Anne Kelly, who also noted that a former GM site in New Jersey is now a golf course.

While he recognized that the site would never be fit for residential use, Mr. Sullivan inquired about a golf course or hotel.

Mr. Spitzley said that several conceptual uses for the property have been developed and are part of the marketing efforts.

“What we have found as we market properties is it is beneficial to have some sort of plans showing what it could be,” she said.

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