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Lyons Falls receives half-million in grants for Brownfield sites

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LYONS FALLS — More than half a million dollars is coming to Lewis County, in the form of a Brownfield Opportunity Areas grant, for cleanup and redevelopment of dormant and potentially contaminated properties.

Lyons Falls will receive $553,761 for projects that Mayor Catherine L. Liendecker said she hopes will bring a variety of businesses to the community.

Mrs. Liendecker said the funds will be distributed “among four primary sites throughout the village.”

There are several ways the money is planned to be spent, with marketing strategies and testing of the areas a priority.

The site of the former Lyons Falls Pulp & Paper mill is the largest of the areas.

“It will be a major part of it,” Mrs. Liendecker said.

Owned by the Lewis County Development Corp. and in the beginning stages of an expected cleanup project, the former mill site contains approximately 24 buildings in various stages of decay. While some may be salvageable, a majority will require removal.

That removal will allow the expansion of a hydroelectric complex owned by Northbrook Lyons Falls, a subsidiary of Kruger Energy, Montreal, and an eventual mixed-used development that could include light industrial, retail or residential areas.

Mrs. Liendecker said some interest already has been generated from the possibility of usable property on that site in the form of a biorefinery.

The second site, at Cherry and McAlpine streets, is a vacant building known as “the old Marino’s.”

The state Department of Environmental Conservation has not yet granted final clearance to use the property, according to Mrs. Liendecker. That clearance will open the building up to a variety of uses.

Property owner Terry J. Thisse said the area, once owned by Alaskan Oil, has been cleaned and he’s been told it’s “ready to go.”

On McAlpine Street, two additional sites are privately owned. Though Mrs. Liendecker was unsure of the level of involvement the owners will want, issues to address with the former train station and the former Lyons Falls Elementary School were specified on the grant application.

“This really is great news for the whole county, not just the village,” Mrs. Liendecker said.

“One of our key elements is tourism,” she said. “We have two rivers and the falls.”

In attracting businesses to the future sites, she said, “We’re not going to put all our eggs in one basket. We’d like diversity and different sorts of businesses.”

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