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Tractor-trailer driver hits building, flees scene

Staff Reports Posted 20 July 2017 at 1:40 pm

Damage from truck crash at ABCD Holley

A tractor-trailer truck struck Grace’s Place Agri-Business Child Development today at about 12:30 p.m., damaging the front façade of the building on Maziarz Drive in the Holley Business Park. The trucker then fled the scene. In the above photo, Holley firefighters Ron Meier, left, and Fran Gaylord inspect the damage to the building.

Damage from truck wreck at ABCD Holley

Holley police are attempting to locate the truck driver. Gaylord said tractor-trailers sometimes make a wrong turn at the business park and go past the child care center. A truck has hit the building once before, he said.

Clarendon officials not happy with trash strewn at town park

Photo by Kristina Gabalski: The Town Park in Clarendon is pictured on a quiet summer evening

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 20 July 2017 at 7:39 am

CLARENDON – Town Board members have decided to take a “wait and see” approach to a continuing problem of trash being left in the Town Park.

Town Supervisor Dick Moy said he and his wife cleaned-up a recent mess which included toilet paper being strewn about and beer cans being dumped in the toilet.

“It was a disaster,” Moy said.

People who rent the shelter for gatherings are expected to keep the park clean and neat, he said. Town officials noted trash has been left behind both by people renting the shelter and those who have congregated in the park late into the evening.

“There’s always a few that spoil it for someone else,” Town Councilman Paul Nicosia said.

Moy questioned if someone should be appointed to keep an eye on gatherings in the park to help prevent the problems from occurring.

Town Code Enforcement Officer Melissa Ierlan suggested a laminated sign with park rules be placed in a prominent spot where people enter the park.

“Put it where you pull into the parking lot,” Ierlan said.

A fence and gate, which could be closed at night, might be a solution, said Councilman Marc Major.

“People are driving in and using it after hours,” he said.

Following their discussion, board members decided to wait before taking any further action, to see if the problems continue.

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Holley will join multi-municipal effort for grant to bolster ‘underutilized’ Erie Canal

By Kristina Gabalski, Correspondent Posted 17 July 2017 at 11:07 am

File photo by Tom Rivers: Holley’s Canal Park is a popular spot along the Erie Canal.

HOLLEY – Orleans County Legislator Ken DeRoller has encouraged the Village of Holley to be part of a multi-municipality effort to obtain a planning grant to develop a Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan (LWRP) for communities along the Erie Canal.

“It would provide a future view of how we want to use the canal corridor,” DeRoller said.

In addition to the Village of Holley, DeRoller said the Village of Albion, Town of Albion and Town of Murray should also be involved.  He noted the Village of Medina is already pursuing a plan on their own.

DeRoller spoke to members of the Village Board during their regular meeting last week.

According to New York State, Local Waterfront Revitalization Plans follow a step-by-step process by which communities can advance their planning from vision to implementation. The state offers grant funding for plan-related projects, once plans have been approved.

“I think we have a great product,” DeRoller said of the canal front in Orleans County.

The LWRP will help communities to “enhance its use and plan for the future … we can be the new Fairport in Orleans County.”

DeRoller mentioned attractions and recreational activities on the canal which Holley offers, including Holley Falls and the nearby Public Square. He also discussed potential recreational activities on the canal such as kayaking and hydro-kayaking, as well as activities when the canal is de-watered in the winter season.

“It’s very well worth it,” Holley Mayor Brian Sorochty said of creating a plan. He likened it to the village’s application for a Brownfield Opportunity Area Step 2 grant.

“To do this with other communities strengthens the application,” the mayor said. “I think we can put together a strong application. The canal is underutilized in Orleans County.”

Village Board members also heard July 11 from John Pera, the new post commander for the Jewell Buckman American Legion Post in Holley.

Pera told the board, the Legion is hoping to do more for the Holley community.

“We want to be more a part of the community than in the past,” Pera said of the veterans organization. “We are looking for what we can do for our community. We want to enhance our image to more of a family-friendly organization.”

Pera noted the Holley American Legion has the highest recruitment rate in western New York and the Ladies Auxiliary now has nine junior members – part of an effort to encourage the younger generation to become involved.  He was joined at the meeting by Ladies Auxiliary President Deb Zicari.

“We want to do what we can to help the younger generation,” she said.

Anyone who served during war-time is eligible for membership, Pera noted. Family members of eligible members may join the Ladies Auxiliary or Sons of the American Legion, he said.

“They just need to show someone in their lineage is/was a member of Post 529 in Holley,” Pera said

“We will make sure we reach out to you,” Sorochty told Pera and Zicari and thanked them for reaching out to the board.

The Jewell Buckman American Legion Post 529 has a new website with information on Post activities and membership:

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Orleans EDA will pursue $500K grant for old Holley High School project

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 16 July 2017 at 9:37 am

ALBION – The Orleans Economic Development Agency called the effort to revive the old Holley High School for apartments and village offices a critical project on Friday.

The developers of the project were denied funding in the form of housing tax credits this spring by the New York State Homes and Community Renewal.

Home Leasing, developer for the project with Edgemere Development, is pursuing the state funding again this year.

The developers are looking for other state funding sources and shows of community support to make the case to the state for the bigger financial piece through Homes and Community Renewal.

The Orleans EDA agreed to pursue a grant on Friday for up to $500,000 for the project through the Environmental Protection Fund grant program for projects in Parks, Preservation and Heritage.

The funding is a matching grant for a property on the National Register of Historic Places. Home Leasing will pay the matching funds. The EDA will be the sponsor of the grant.

Home Leasing and Edgemere also will prepare and file the grant application.

“It certainly helps their project,” EDA attorney Kevin Zanner told the EDA board of directors on Friday.

Jim Whipple, the EDA chief executive officer, said the tax credits are ultimately needed to make the $17 million project a reality. The smaller state grants are also helpful.

“This shows EDA support and makes the story stronger,” Whipple said. “This is an important project.”

Revitalizing the old school, which has been vacant for about two decades, has been identified as a priority project in Holley’s comprehensive plan.

Home Leasing wants to turn the school into 41 residential apartments and offices for the village government. A restored auditorium would be used for meeting space. Developers said they will restore the historic building to its former glory as part of the project.

The school is located in the center of a historic district.

Kim Russell, executive vice president of Home Leasing, met with members of the Holley Village Board and Murray Town Board on Tuesday.

The company welcomes community letters of support as part of the funding applications.

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8 homes – abandoned after Diaz leak 15 years ago – all sold this week

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 14 July 2017 at 5:21 pm

HOLLEY – Eight homes that have been vacant for about 15 years after a leak at the former Diaz Chemical plant have all sold this week.

The houses were recently put on the market and eight purchase offers totaling $192,600 have been accepted for the sites.

The federal Environmental Protection Agency will receive 90 percent of the money after closing costs and real estate service fees are included.

The remaining 10 percent will go to Village of Holley Development Corporation, a village entity tasked with economic and community development.

Dan Schiavone, a local dentist, serves as president of the VHDC. He also was mayor during the chemical leak from Diaz in 2002, which led to the company declaring bankruptcy and go out of business.

Schiavone agreed to lead the VHDC to address blight and vacant properties in Holley. He was concerned the “Diaz homes” would linger on the market.

“I was worried they would be difficult to get rid of,” he said this afternoon. “It was a pleasant surprise.”

The buyers all have to have EPA certified contractors remove lead dust and encapsulate lead paint in the houses. That was a requirement from the EPA before a certificate of occupancy can be issued. The houses were otherwise deemed safe by the EPA.

The homes, which were listed by Jen Passarell of ReMax, were sold at a slight discount from the appraised values from the EPA.

“They were priced to sell,” Schiavone said. “It will be a big plus for the village to have them back on the tax rolls and not be eyesores in the neighborhood.”

The 10 percent that goes to the VHDC may be used for other community cleanup efforts.

“We’re hoping to be able to open a bank account and use this small amount for operating expenses and possibly grant writing related to future projects,” Schiavone said.

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Developers of old Holley school and village are aggressively pursuing funding for project

By Kristina Gabalski, Correspondent Posted 12 July 2017 at 1:00 pm

File photo by Tom Rivers: Developers and local officials are pushing for a project to turn the former Holley High School into apartments and offices. The public may be asked to write letters in support of the project.

HOLLEY – Developers and local leaders are working to make sure the proposed restoration/development of the old Holley High School moves forward.

Members of the development team spoke before the Holley Village Board and Murray Town Board during their regular meetings Tuesday evening.

“We have to kick it up a notch,” Kim Russell, executive vice president of Home Leasing, told Holley Village Board members after speaking to the Murray Town Board.

She explained that local leaders, representatives on the state and federal levels, and community stakeholders – including those interested in living in the proposed Holley Gardens Apartments mixed income senior housing planned for the former school – must work to promote the need for the project.

“We need to tell the story from a personal level, bring the heartstring element in,” Russell said.

She and Charlie Oster of Edgemere Development explained that Orleans County is considered part of the Finger Lakes region – the most competitive region in the state for grant funding – and that it is vital for representatives to make it clear that now is Orleans County’s turn for funding.

Developers applied for funding from New York State Homes and Community Renewal last year, but the project was not funded when grants were awarded this spring.  Oster said developers are working to re-apply this fall and are strengthening the application.

“We will re-submit,” Oster said. “We believe (in this project) and will get it done. We are in the process of incorporating updates.”

Oster and Village Board members discussed why the project may not have been selected for funding on its initial try.

Oster explained the fact Holley is a rural community is one factor. “The state takes a hard look at the market,” he said. He also noted developers need to accelerate the proposed schedule of the project in order to increase the chances of obtaining funding the second time around.

Mayor Brian Sorochty noted most projects are not funded on the first application. “The project was not denied,” he said. “It wasn’t funded, most are not funded the first time.”

The Village Board approved resolutions endorsing the application of developers, who are also seeking grant funding from additional sources, including NYSERDA, the NY Main Street Grant Program, and the Empire State Economic Development Fund through a NYS Consolidated Funding Application.

Oster said the village’s participation in the application process is necessary as part of the project includes the move of the village offices to the school.

Sorochty, Oster and Russell discussed setting up a meeting in August between developers, local leaders, and state and federal representatives.

“We need to discuss details on how to move forward,” Russell said. She said State Senator Rob Ortt, Assemblyman Steve Hawley, U.S. Senator Schumer and local economic development officials should be part of the group, and that a grass roots campaign of letter writing should also be part of the effort.

“We need to do anything from grassroots up to the federal government,” she said.

The proposed Holley Gardens project includes 41 units of senior housing, village office space on the main floor, and restoration of the auditorium for use as meeting space.  Developers have said they will restore the historic building to its former glory as part of the project.

The old Holley High School made the first-ever “Five to Revive” list compiled by the Landmark Society of Western New York in 2013. That designation helped attract the interest of the developers.

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Next phase of Diaz remediation in Holley includes soil, groundwater

Photos by Kristina Gabalski: Holley community members were able to speak with contractors and EPA officials who will soon begin the work of extracting chemicals from the soil and groundwater at the former Diaz Chemical site by utilizing thermal treatment technology.

By Kristina Gabalski, Correspondent Posted 12 July 2017 at 11:07 am

Purchase offers submitted for 6 of 8 ‘Diaz homes’

HOLLEY – The federal Environmental Protection Agency is moving forward with the next stage of cleanup from the former Diaz Chemical Corp.

The EPA also announced on Tuesday it has received offers on eight houses that were left vacant because residents were worried the sites were contaminated by Diaz.

John DiMartino, Remedial Project Manager for the EPA, told Holley Village Board members Tuesday evening that the Village of Holley Development Corporation (VHDC) has received six offers on the eight former Diaz homes, and that the change in deeds to the VHDC was recorded June 29.

“The offers were reasonable, we will not be a roadblock,” he told the board. “This is great news.”

He credited VHDC President Daniel Schiavone for “working very hard” to make the change in ownership of the abandoned homes to the VHDC – and ultimately their return to the tax rolls – possible.

He said the transfer of the properties to the VHDC, “has been a learning process for us… from time to time (the EPA) acquires property, we rarely buy homes and become landlords.”

DiMartino reviewed the agreement between the VHDC, the village, and the EPA to transfer the deeds of the eight properties located near the former Diaz Chemical site on Jackson Street.  Buyers will have to provide documentation in the form of a receipt from a lead abatement contractor, that lead abatement is complete on the homes before a certificate of occupancy is issued.

The EPA provided the VHDC with a packet of information for each home – including appraisals and results of testing done by the EPA.

DiMartino said testing showed that no chemicals related to the Diaz release in 2002 were found in any of the eight homes.

“We spent time and money to try and link these items to Diaz,” DiMartino said of testing, but anything found was typical of what would be found in any home in a rural setting.

EPA officials and contractors were at the American Legion in Holley on Tuesday to answer questions of residents regarding  soil and groundwater cleanup at the Diaz Chemical Superfund site.

DiMartino was in Holley Tuesday for a public availability session from 5 to 7 p.m. at the American Legion on Wright Street, regarding the next phase of cleanup at the Diaz Chemical Superfund Site.

The session was sparsely attended, but DiMartino told village leaders the site will now become a busy place as preparation for Phase I of in-situ thermal treatment (ISTT) of soil and groundwater gets underway.

“It’s going well,” DiMartino said of the process of site work. He called the Diaz chemicals that remain in the ground, “unusual and odd-ball…. we need to see how they react (to the thermal process).”

That means Phase I will cover only 10 percent of the overall site.

“It’s pretty aggressive technology,” he explained. “There is tight geology there, you can’t just pump it out.”

Phase I is expected to take about one year. Construction of the thermal treatment system will begin this summer with treatment operations beginning in December.

DiMartino said the ground will be heated to two different temps, “and we will see how the Diaz chemicals respond.”

Phase I is completely funded, he said. Phase II will not begin until after results from Phase I are known. The EPA will then have to design how Phase II will be carried out and complete the process of contracting and funding again.

He estimated the cost of Phase II work to be $30 million – a “ballpark figure.”  Because of the cost, he said the EPA envisions “rolling funding” over the work of Phase II. Completing the process of cleaning-up contaminated soils could take several years, DiMartino indicated.

He described the thermal extraction process, which dries the chemicals out. They are then collected in vapor form, distilled, treated and then vented into the atmosphere.

“It is safe for residents,” DiMartino said.

Air monitoring will be done around the perimeter of the site during the process.

“Thermal has been done in many other sites,” he said. “It is a proven technology.”

DiMartino noted above ground cleanup is complete – buildings, drums and pipes with chemicals have been removed and the next phase of cleanup will focus on soil and groundwater. He said the groundwater plume for the site is not very long.

“We don’t anticipate volatilization into groundwater,” he said.

He also told village leaders the Diaz site will be kept mowed.

During the public availability session earlier in the evening, residents questioned how the use of electricity in the thermal process would affect their rates for Village of Holley Municipal Electric. DiMartino told Village Board members National Grid can provide power for the process.

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Holley kicks off summer concert series

By Kristina Gabalski, Correspondent Posted 9 July 2017 at 9:01 am

Photos by Kristina Gabalski

HOLLEY – Don Newcomb opened Holley’s summer concert series on Friday by performing many classic country tunes.

The concerts begin at 7 p.m. in the Canal Park and are held each Friday through August 25.

The concerts are funded by a Decentralization Program re-grant administered by GO ART!

A crowd enjoyed the music and peaceful setting at Holley’s canal park.

The Traveling Towpath Troubadours will perform at the park on Monday from 6 to 8 p.m. as part of their celebration of the bicentennial of the start of construction of the Erie Canal.

The schedule for Friday evening concert includes:

July 14: The Brick Band

July 21: Blackjack Band

July 28: Creek Band

Aug. 4: Ghost Riders

Aug. 11: Sophisticats

Aug. 18: The Who Dats

Aug. 25: Julie Dunlap

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EPA will discuss next phase of Diaz cleanup at July 11 meeting

Staff Reports Posted 5 July 2017 at 10:54 am

File photo by Tom Rivers: The federal Environmental Protection Agency has taken down many of the buildings from the former Diaz Chemical in Holley. Now the agency is focused on removing the soil of contaminants. The EPA will discuss its soil remediation plan from 5 to 7 p.m. on July 11 at the American Legion, 5 Wright St.

HOLLEY – The federal Environmental Protection Agency is ready for the next phase of its cleanup of the former Diaz Chemical, which is a Superfund site.

The agency has removed Diaz buildings, drums and pipes with chemicals, and other above-ground contaminants. Only a Diaz warehouse remains from when the company operated until declaring bankruptcy in 2003.

The agency last year relocated 1,200 feet of a 12-inch waterline on Jackson Street and South Main Street.

This year, the EPA will focus on contaminated soils. The EPA will discuss its plan from 5 to 7 p.m. on July 11 at the American Legion, 5 Wright St. EPA staff will be there to take questions from the community and discuss the remediation plan.

The next phase of the cleanup will involve in-situ thermal treatment (ISTT) of contaminated soils and groundwater in on-site source areas, continued operation of vapor mitigation systems in three nearby residential properties and monitoring of the groundwater outside the source areas, according to an announcement from the EPA.

The ISTT system consists of a network of wells that deliver heat into discrete subsurface unsaturated and saturated areas of soil. Co-located with the heater wells is a system of extraction wells and temperature/pressure monitoring points.

The treatment area will be covered with an insulated cap to ensure a tight vapor seal which aids in heating and vapor recovery, and prevents both heat losses to the atmosphere and precipitation infiltration.

The application of heat to the subsurface results in the conversion of organic chemicals into the vapor or gas phase, where they are removed under vacuum by the extraction wells, the EPA said.

The extracted vapors and groundwater are then conveyed through a piping network to be treated separately by granular activated carbon before being vented to the atmosphere or discharged to the stormwater sewer, respectively. All applicable New York State Department of Environmental Conservation discharge permits will be met, the EPA said.

The cleanup work will be performed in two phases. The first phase will target a small area (approximately 10%) of the site requiring treatment with the objective of establishing a basis of design for full-scale treatment in phase two.

The EPA contractor will mobilize to the site in mid-July and start site preparation activities, including abandoning old monitoring wells and installing new ones, baseline soil/groundwater sampling, and establishing site support facilities (utility hook-up, work trailer, fencing).

The EPA expects construction of the ISTT system to start in early August, with actual operation to begin in December and continue until summer 2018.

Once it is determined that the treatment objectives have been achieved, the heaters will be turned off. However, extraction and treatment will continue during this cool-down period. Following this, the wellfield, all process equipment, and all interconnecting piping and hardware will be decommissioned.

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Judge dismisses ‘Squirrel Slam’ lawsuit

File photos by Tom Rivers: Derrick Bradley, wearing a skunk costume on Feb. 22, 2014, joins local residents as they respond to protestors who opposed the annual ‘Squirrel Slam’ fundraiser in Holley.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 30 June 2017 at 1:13 pm

State Supreme Court justice says hunt meets DEC regulations

ALBION – A State Supreme Court justice dismissed a case today against the Holley Fire Department, which sought to make the fire department complete an environmental impact assessment and study before organizing another Squirrel Slam.

The judge, Tracey Bannister of Erie County, heard oral arguments from both sides this morning.

She ruled the plaintiff, by Lauren Sheive of Williamson in Wayne County, didn’t have standing in the case because she lives 50 miles from Holley and was very unlikely to see a notable decrease in the squirrel population near her home.

Bannister also said the Squirrel Slam, typically held on a Saturday in late February, falls under state Department of Environmental Conservation regulations.

The case has the potential for larger implications if the judge determined an environmental impact needed to be done for hunting contests.

“This is an assault on hunting,” said Steven Shahan, an attorney from Syracuse representing the Holley Fire Department.

Hunting is a $5 billion industry in the state that brings families together and also culls wildlife in the absence of many of their natural predators, Shahan told the judge.

Bannister served as judge in the case after James Punch, acting Supreme Court justice in Orleans County, recused himself.

A team of four attorneys from Winston & Strawn LLP in New York City made the trip to Albion this morning to argue the case. That firm took on the case pro bono.

Anup Misra argued the case on behalf of Lauren Sheive.

“This is not an attack on hunting,” Misra said about the lawsuit. “We’re not trying to stop the hunting tradition.”

Misra said the Squirrel Slam resulted in a “massive” killing of a single species of a squirrel in one day.

He said the Fire Department should do an assessment of the loss of squirrels locally due to the contest.

“It’s no different than the hundreds of fishing derbies that take place each year in New York,” Shahan said.

Bannister said opening day of deer season also results in numerous deaths of deer.

“There is a massive slaughter of deer on opening day,” she said. “We can barely keep the courts open because there are so many deputies out hunting.”

The judge said the Holley hunt doesn’t violate any DEC regulations Participants are can’t exceed the DEC daily limit of five squirrels per hunter. The contest has room for 600 entries. Shahan said the contests average about one squirrel per entry, which he said doesn’t result in a massive killing of the species.

Misra argued that Sheive should have standing in the case even though she lives 50 miles from Holley. Some of the participants hunt 40 miles or more from Holley – less than an hour’s drive. Squirrels are also very mobile and Misra said it wasn’t inconceivable to think squirrels on Scheive’s property would be effected by the Squirrel Slam.

Scheive purposely lives in a wooded area in a backyard that is a certified wildlife area, Misra told the judge.

“She is a squirrel lover,” Misra said.

Her appreciation for the animals above and beyond how the average population feels about squirrels should give her standing in the case, Misra argued.

Shahan said that was a deficient reason to give Sheive standing in the case.

“She hasn’t proven injury or standing,” Shahan said. “You can’t just say you have an overabundance of interest in squirrels.”

Misra tried to raise another issue about SEQR, the State Environmental Quality Review Act. It requires government agencies to do an environmental when there is a significant environmental impact on “fauna or vegetation.” Misra said the loss of hundreds – perhaps more – of squirrels in a small geographic area should meet that threshold.

Shahan argued the Fire Department doesn’t fall under SEQR because it’s not a government entity, but a non-profit corporation.

The judge didn’t issue an opinion on that issue. She said ultimately the entire case may be a moot point because the Fire Department hasn’t scheduled another Squirrel Slam.

She did, however, want to rule on other aspects of the case because the department could plan another squirrel hunting contest. She didn’t see a legal reason for stopping the event.

Misra said the firm would likely appeal the decision.

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