Brownfield Study - 1
The topic of this post is the City of Plattsburgh Pre-Nomination Study Draft Report Brownfield Opportunity Area Program – December 2008. Obviously the title is a mouthful so I’m going to call it the Plattsburgh Brownfield Draft Report or the Draft Report or just PBDR for short.
Brownfield isn’t a person. It’s a term for an area contaminated with low levels of pollution left behind by previous commercial or industrial use. The PBDR was created with the help of an Albany-based group, Barton & Loguidice, P.C, which sought the input of the community.
So why is the PBDR so important? Simple. Money. The study identifies brownfields in a community for cleanup and re-use. Instead of sitting idle, former brownfield land can be returned to commercial and industrial use, creating jobs, adding more funds to the tax base. Or the land could be used to enhance the community with parks, trails and non-profit projects that draw more visitors.
Keeping in mind that the PBDR is a draft report – I’m assuming that it’s subject to change - I want to hit on a couple of key points pertaining to downtown Plattsburgh. But first, let’s get another abbreviation out of the way: PBOA. Plattsburgh Brownfield Opportunity Area. This is the 1,270 acre area designated by the Draft Report that includes 256 combined acres of 22 brownfield sites. The study concerned itself not only with brownfield land but any other issues holding back revitalization.
From what I understand Barton & Loguidice was unaware of the Strand renovation project and the proposed Lake City Arts Corridor until community members brought these items to their attention. As explained in a Press-Republican article dated 10/22/08, Barton & Loguidice wanted to learn what community members thought; B&L wasn’t hired to tell the community what to think. Community members expressed their concerns and ideas during workshops.
Thanks to community input the #1 Priority Project recommended by the PBDR is the establishment of the Lake City Arts Corridor, a project being promoted by the North Country Cultural Center for the Arts (NCCCA). As stated in Recommended Anchor Projects (page 37):
“There was a consensus among the discussion groups that a major attraction, a high profile ‘Destination’, is needed to draw interest in downtown. The Strand Theater and Arts Corridor may be the attraction that can quickly and inexpensively make a major impact and create a buzz downtown.”
A key point in the recommendations: “Acquisition of the Federal Building and associated land in addition to the Strand Theater for administrative and accessory space [for the NCCCA].”
Uh-oh. Plattsburgh Mayor Donald Kasprzak wants the now empty Federal Building to be used for commercial purposes, putting the property back on the tax rolls. Previous to the PBDR another study, the Hyett Palma 2003 Economic Strategy Enhancement Strategy, was gung ho for the Arts Corridor.
Commerce versus Art: Which side will win?