Cleanup work at the former Bertges property on Lake Shore Drive in the city is being readied as the state Department of Envir-onmental Conservation has be-gun testing to see what needs to be accomplished. That was the report from Development De-partment Director Steve Neratko during a Wednesday meeting of Common Council's Economic Development Committee.
"There are also some additional properties that will probably be getting a cleanup this year. There is the contamination at the marina property, where the boat storage is, that needs to be cleaned out," Neratko explained. He said the marina work will likely start when the boats are in the water.
"Prior to that there will need to be a council resolution just letting you know there's some cleanup work that needs to be done there," he added, before talking about the coming cleanup at the AL Tech Lucas Avenue site.
OBSERVER Photo by Gib Snyder
Fiscal Affairs Officer Richard Halas (left) questioned environmental cleanup work on the city’s harborfront during a meeting of Common Council’s Economic Development committee on Wednesday. At the table with Halas are Community Development Block Grant Coordinator Tim Gornikiewicz and Development director Steve Neratko. Taking it all in from the background is Mayor Anthony J. Dolce.
'There is a steering committee put together for that and we should have a meeting sometime this month. ... Once we get that steering committee together we can start to put together some goals," Neratko said. "An RFP will go out to consultants for that work. ... It is, again, a planning grant for the Al Tech site and the area. We may be able to expand it to include the western half of the city."
Neratko said the city is still working a little bit with developer Brian Burke on the Flickinger Building.
"He did bring in the Phase I and Phase IIs last week. He's still continuing to look for funding opportunities for this," Neratko explained. "We're working with him; there may be some brownfield work there. ... That would end up going to the (Dunkirk Local Development Corporation) as well."
At that point, Fiscal Affairs Officer Richard Halas said he wanted a meeting with the DEC about the harbor cleanups, citing a public meeting held by the DEC on AL Tech cleanup.
"The city would have to give them the right to go on the property and clean it up just like the DLDC had to give permission for the DLDC to clean it up on the Bertges property," Neratko replied. "The issue is, if we're not going to allow them to clean it up we have to clean it up. There are contaminations on the site."
Halas said the DLDC is indirectly the city of Dunkirk but Neratko countered that it was an independent organization.
"We have to really get that straight everyone. The DLDC is a completely separate organization," Neratko added.
Neratko said the DLDC should seek its own funding with Halas countering that it is using city funds.
"CDBG wouldn't be considered city of Dunkirk," Neratko countered. "It's federal, but it's not local city taxes being paid to the DLDC."
Councilwoman-at-Large Stephanie Kiyak, committee chair, said the DLDC passed a resolution saying the DEC could clean the sites up.
"With the city-owned properties we then have to go through that same decision process of whether we want to clean it up or whether we want the state to come in, clean it up and then bill us later," she stated. "I guess what you're asking is; if it's city-owned properties, does the public get to weigh in on what they're saying needs to be cleaned up."
Halas said anytime there were taxpayers' funds involved residents should be allowed to talk to the DEC.
"And what, dispute what they're saying needs to be cleaned up?" Kiyak asked.
Halas said he would like information about what occurred on the site and that it should be available online. Neratko stated he would send Halas the reports he has.
"I'm just happy we're getting some of these areas addressed. Being able to do it through the state and having them bill us is actually much cheaper than doing it on our own," Fourth Ward Councilwoman Stacy Szukala added. "I think it's much more timely than it would be for us to do it."
City Attorney Ron Szot asked if Halas was questioning why the DEC was targeting a particular spot and pointed out the different ways the DEC gets involved in cleanup sites.
"This one was prompted by the fact that the DLDC, along with Krog and Turnkey, submitted a brownfield application for that site," Neratko explained. "When they did that voluntarily, the testing that was all done was sent to the DEC. The DEC sees there is contamination right on the waterfront. It is of extreme importance to them to get contamination cleaned up near the waterfront. It's been quite some time since the DEC originally contacted the DLDC or the city. In fact, a couple years went by where the DEC was expecting the city to send in reports and a plan on how they were going to clean up the site and the marina. The city never did any of that."
Szot added to the explanation.
"In Bertges, there was a request from the DEC, we've got problems here," he began. "The marina, the lessee of the property wanted to get commercial financing for prospective development and as a result, the prospective lendor to the lessee said, 'we're not loaning you any money on a potentially dangerous site,' unlike what the DLDC does. ... When the bank's engineers came in and said they were going to do their initial testing, it triggered a red flag. They have a responsibility under the law to notify the DEC.
"So right across the dock from each other, two separate properties, two separate issues, brought to the DEC's attention two different ways."
Halas asked if there was anything formal from the DEC and if it could be forwarded to him. Neratko said he could do that.
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