DEFERIET — During a special meeting June 21, the village Board of Trustees decided to move forward, with the town of Wilna as the lead agency, to designate the former St. Regis paper mill property as a Brownfield Opportunity Area.
The action is a multi-step process starting with applying to the Department of State for a Brownfield Opportunity Area nomination study, according to Sarah Bullock, town of Wilna community development director.
If awarded a grant, a consultant will be hired to further the designation application by meeting with a steering committee and to explore possibilities for the former mill site.
“They will look at what the mill was, what it can be — what to do with the mill site,” Mrs. Bullock said.
As part of the process, the town and village are seeking public comment. The draft application will be available for public review from June 28 to July 28 at the town office, 414 State St. Carthage, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.
The study of the brownfield will include a plan for remediation and redevelopment.
Any individual, group, or agency may submit written comments on the 2021 Brownfield Opportunity Area grant application to the Town of Wilna Community Development office at 414 State St., Carthage, NY 13619, or via e-mail at email@example.com. All comments received on or before July 28 will be considered.
If the site receives the Brownfield Opportunity Area designation, it would mean it would qualify for funding and would be ready to move forward with remediation and redevelopment.
“I love the fact something is being done to repurpose the former St. Regis Paper Company site,” said Deferiet mayor Janet M. Zando. “It will be wonderful to see some life there as the paper mill is the reason Deferiet was created.”
Interest has been expressed in the site.
Last year, following Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s announcement concerning the Clean Energy Standard, the former mill property was looked at as a potential “build ready” site for solar power.
The state Energy Research and Development Authority and New York Power Authority are seeking to procure 1,500 megawatts of clean, renewable energy.
David Zembiec, Jefferson County Economic Development Deputy CEO, said the Deferiet site fits the criteria for a possible solar array.
According to Mrs. Bullock, the two designations could play off each other to enhance the possibility of development for the site.
“I hope the property can be cleaned up and straightened up to put solar in there,” said town of Wilna supervisor Paul Smith. “And not lay stagnant for years and be an eyesore.”
The paper manufacturing plant, which was owned by St. Regis, Champion, Newstech and finally Deferiet Paper, closed in 2004. The 400 Anderson Ave. property was sold at auction to Deferiet Development LLC in 2006, and according to Jefferson County records, taxes have not been paid since the property was purchased.
A public meeting on the draft application will be held at 7 p.m. July 12 at the town office.