QUEENSBURY -- Possible “opportunities” ranging from a freight handling center or solar energy facility to an industrial heritage museum or a wildflower meadow will be considered, as consultants prepare a redevelopment plan for the former Ciba-Geigy industrial site off Lower Warren Street, just east of the Glens Falls city line.
“Probably right after the first of the year we’ll start working on it in earnest,” said Chris Round, vice president of planning service for The Chazen Companies, a consulting firm the town of Queensbury hired to lead the planning process.
Initially, it appears the parcel could accommodate a variety of recreational and industrial uses, or a combination thereof, The Chazen Companies wrote in a project summary.
Consultants will host public forums and focus groups as part of the process to prepare the plan, which will be created in tandem with an application for state and federal funding for redevelopment projects in the area.
A former Ciba-Geigy pigment plant at the site was demolished in the late 1980s. An $8 million, two-year cleanup of the property was completed in 2001, but the land remains vacant.
Local government and economic development officials have said that is largely because of concerns on the part of would-be buyers about liability, should construction at the site stir up contaminated soil. The contamination is sealed under a cap, complete with a groundwater collection system.
A regional Hudson River and Feeder Canal waterfront study completed in 2008 recommended developing a master plan to turn the 45-acre main plant site into a public park and waterfront access site along the Hudson River and Feeder Canal. But local government and economic development officials said they would prefer the site be redeveloped for industrial use, if possible.
The site is zoned for heavy-industrial use. It already has a direct sewage line to the Glens Falls wastewater treatment plant and access to a railroad spur.
Ideally, the new plan would recommend a combination of industrial and recreational uses, Round said.
“The big challenge is going to be the environmental and regulatory constraints because certain areas are prohibited from development,” he said.
BASF, the chemical company that owns the property, is concerned about liability, Round said.
“To try to cut through and talk to the right people (at BASF) is going to be a challenge as well,” Round said. “We’ve made some good connections already with local staff, but they’re more of stewards of the property and not necessarily decision makers.”
The Town Board has authorized paying The Chazen Companies and River Street Planning & Development up to $94,000 to prepare the Ciba-Geigy site plan, and up to $39,800 to prepare the related South Queensbury Brownfield Opportunity Area grant nomination document.
Much of the cost will be covered by state Department of State grants.
The state Brownfield Opportunity Area program is aimed at providing state funds to prepare development plans for neighborhoods that have vacant or abandoned industrial buildings. Part of the process to nominate the parcel for the program involves determining whether buildings are contaminated, and if so, what cleanup measures might be necessary.
Funding from the program can also be used to review zoning, building codes or complete environmental impact studies.
Nomination of South Street in Glens Falls as a Brownfield Opportunity Area several years ago garnered state and federal funds for infrastructure improvements.
City officials have said those improvements were a catalyst to redevelopment, including the new Glens Falls National Bank building.