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City studies contaminated properties

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The Ogdensburg Office of Planning and Development broke ground Monday on a State Street project aimed at helping to restore contaminated sites within the city.

The property, which is located across from Little Italy, 900 State St., and is used primarily as additional parking lot for the restaurant, is owned by Joseph Cammisano.

“They are doing a terrific job,” Mr. Cammisano said. “The city has been very helpful through the entire process.”

Engineers from the Department of Environmental Conservation and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Barton & Loguidice, Albany, worked throughout the day, checking for contaminated soil.

The former site of a gas station, engineers removed the large gas tanks from the property before studying soil samples.

City Planning and Development Director Andrea L. Smith said a small amount of soil was found to be contaminated from a minor petroleum leak, but was eventually contained.

“So far it is going well and there are no major signs of widespread contamination,” Mrs. Smith said while at the site.

The project is part of the city’s efforts to help clean up brownfields on private properties.

Brownfields are properties at which moderate contaminations threaten environmental quality and public health and can interfere with redevelopment, Mrs. Smith said.

“The project isn’t necessarily aimed at cleanup,” she said. “Our goal is to first assess these properties because many landowners may not know whether their property is contaminated or not. And they may be hesitant to build or expand because they do know what is in the soil.”

The city received a $200,000 from the U.S. Environmental Agency to assess contaminated private properties in 2013. Combined with the city’s $200,000 hazardous cleanup fund, the grant will specifically be used to assess sites with hazardous substances and petroleum contamination throughout the city.

Mrs. Smith said the goal of the project is also to change perceptions of the city.

“The city has a stigma of brownfields, but by going in and actually assessing these properties we can show that they aren’t contaminated,” she said.

Mr. Cammisano said he is hoping to expand or rent the building located on the site once the assessment is complete and the property is cleared of any possible contamination.

“We are open to whatever the tenant is interested in, whether they want to expand or keep it as is,” he said.

The project on State Street will continue until Wednesday.

To apply for the program, applications can be picked up and submitted at the city’s planning office, 330 Ford St.

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