Cleanup for YMCA project not quite done

Local officials found out Tuesday that a little more work needs to be done to complete the environmental cleanup for the long-awaited YMCA project in the former call center at 146 Arsenal St. Watertown Daily Times

WATERTOWN — Local officials found out Tuesday that a little more work needs to be done to complete the environmental cleanup for the long-awaited YMCA project in a former Arsenal Street call center.

It should take less than a month to remove the remaining polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs from the floor of the 65,000-square-foot building at 146 Arsenal St. before actual construction on the community center project can begin.

David J. Zembiec, chief executive officer of Jefferson County Economic Development, said test results came back on Tuesday that showed the additional work on the cleanup needs to be done.

The results were discussed during a meeting on Tuesday afternoon.

At this point, 10 squares — out of 642 that were each 10 feet by 10 feet — will need to be completely removed “since we can’t scrape down any further,” Mr. Zembiec said, adding that fill will be added when the entire floor is resurfaced.

Mr. Zembiec will have a more definitive timeline within a couple of days when that work will be done, but he expects it will be during the third week of January, depending on how long it takes to pour, level and set the new floor surface.

The environmental cleanup of PCBs began in August to remove the material from the building’s tiles on top of its cement floor.

The building will be converted into a facility with a six-lane lap pool, a separate full-size recreational pool, two full-size tennis courts with a running track above and several other amenities.

An engineering firm is still working on the final design for the YMCA’s community center project. Construction is slated to start early next year.

The YMCA project has been delayed since last summer while the environmental cleanup work was done, using a method called scarifying to remove a layer of the cement at a time.

The Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency, the JCED’s sister organization, continues to own the building but will turn it over to the YMCA once testing determines the PCBs are cleaned up.

PCBs — oily liquids and solids used as coolants and for a variety of industrial applications — were banned in the U.S. in 1979 because of health hazards.

An adhesive used to install the floor tiles at the building contained a PCB-contaminated oil that seeped into the cement underneath the tiles.

The JCIDA is responsible for the $2 million in costs for the remediation.

Engineers from Paradigm Environmental Services, Watertown, developed the remediation plan with Sessler Environmental Services, Macedon, Wayne County, while AAC, Rochester, is completing the cleanup.

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