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Despite ‘freeze’ at EPA, Schumer tells Holley he will push agency to transfer 8 homes

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 26 January 2017 at 5:22 pm

Photo by Tom Rivers: U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, shown speaking in Holley on Aug. 14, 2014, at the former Diaz Chemical site. John Kenney, Holley’s mayor at the time, is in back.

HOLLEY – U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer told Holley officials today that a “freeze” on all contracts and grants from the Environmental Protection Agency shouldn’t slow down the transfer of eight homes owned by the EPA.

Those houses were abandoned by previous homeowners when they feared the homes were contaminated by a release at the former Diaz Chemical in January 2002.

The EPA has had the sites cleaned. The village has been trying for years to have them put back on the market, boosting the village’s tax base and population.

Schumer sent a letter to the EPA today, Schumer’s office notified Holley Mayor Brian Sorothcy and Dan Schiavone, chairman of the Village of Holley Development Corporation – the entity that would take possession and then try to resell the properties. Some of the proceeds from the sale would go to the village to be used for other economic and community development.

“In light of the reported new policy requiring the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to freeze and review action on all pending EPA contracts and grants, I write to strenuously oppose any delay or any reversal in the EPA’s long anticipated and soon-expected transfer of eight houses in the Village of Holley to the Village of Holley Development Corporation (VHDC).

“When the EPA purchased these eight houses a decade ago as part of its response and clean-up of the 2002 Diaz Chemical toxic chemical release, the Village of Holley lost an estimated $700,000 from its tax base and neighboring homeowners suffered from vacant properties marring their community.

“Fortunately by 2014 the EPA determined the eight houses were free of any contamination from the Diaz release and together with the VHDC initiated a plan to transfer ownership of the houses to the VHDC, which in turn would put the houses on the market for sale to new owners.

“This agreement was codified in a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the EPA that the Village of Holley signed in September 2016.  Prior to enacting this new freeze and review policy on January 24th, quitclaim deeds to the properties were being prepared for the EPA by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers  (USACE) along with related materials needed for the EPA to process the deed transfers within a matter of weeks. ‎

“This new freeze and review policy must not side-track or derail the transfer of these properties.  A promise is a promise and the signed Memorandum of Agreement directing the transfer of these properties back to the Village of Holley must be abided.  I request your immediate assurance that the transfer process will not now be reversed or delayed.”

Sincerely,

Charles Schumer

U.S. Senator

Schumer also issued this statement to the media about the Trump administration decision’s to freeze all EPA grants and contracts:

“EPA’s fundamental mission to protect clean air and clean water for public health and safety is being impeded by the unprecedented decision to freeze all grants and contracts. This decision could have damaging implications‎ for communities across New York, from delaying testing for lead in schools to restricting efforts to keep drinking water clean to holding up much-needed funding to revitalize toxic brownfield sites. The Administration should reverse this damaging policy immediately.”

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