Earlier this month, Rotterdam was awarded $150,000 in state aid to help spur land-use studies that explore development possibilities for 78 acres of town-owned land in Rotterdam Junction.
The land, which runs along Route 5S, is one of 50 areas across the state designated as a Brownfield Opportunity Area (BOA) to receive the funding.
The funding will allow us to continue studies in the area, said Supervisor Steven Tommasone. `The grant also gives us the opportunity to revitalize a large piece of property.`
More than $7.25 million in state aid was doled as part of an agreement to help rebuild blighted areas and spur economic development.
Supervisor Steven Tommasone said he envisions the land in Rotterdam Junction, which was at one time a working gravel mine, as potential park and retail space.
The site, formerly owned by Bonded Concrete, was donated to the town and contains a segment of the historic Erie Canal and the Canalway Trail/Mohawk-Hudson Bikeway.
He said the town hopes this initial grant will be the first of others that will help develop areas in Rotterdam Junction to make the area friendly for families and tourists.
`There is an opportunity to create some passive-use park space and to create some commercial space here,` said Tommasone. `But it’s also important that the land isn’t overdeveloped. People like the small village atmosphere of that area of town.`
Town planner Peter Commenzo said the town would look into the possibility of a small grocery store or pharmacy.
`I think this land would be conducive to that,` he said. `We’re not talking ‘big-box’ here.`
Commenzo also said the land study would address ways to continue protecting the Great Flats Aquifer.
`We’ve been doing an inventory of the area, and we’ll work to clean it up,` said Commenzo. `This grant will allow us an actual plan of action that could lead to subsequent funding.`
In the cover letter of the town’s May 2006 grant application, Tommasone wrote, `some of the major tenants to be addressed through the planning process will include: groundwater recharge; municipal well head and aquifer protection; open space strategies for groundwater recharge areas; potential infrastructure improvements for aquifer protection; improvements to facilitate the goals of the State Canal Plan; facilitation of historic tourism; improvements and plans for existing and future recreational facilities; improvements to local park and trail facilities; and pedestrian and transportation infrastructure improvements.`
In his letter, Tommasone also stressed his desire to have public input in the land studies.
`We also believe that the involvement of local residents, the public and community stakeholders will be important to the nomination process,` he wrote. `We plan to undertake a public visioning process as a means to develop community goals and strategies for our revitalization efforts in the community. Due to the important historic nature of Rotterdam Junction, we feel that the historic context of the area will help to set the framework for revitalization.`
The BOA program, created in 2003 along with the state’s Brownfield Cleanup Program provides communities with financial assistance to facilitate the collection of information about an area blighted with brownfields. A brownfield site is defined as `real property, the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant.`
The program provides assistance to identify, prepare, create, develop and assemble information to be included in an application to `nominate an area as a BOA. The program also provides financial assistance for site assessments performed in designated BOAs.“