Holley looks for brownfield grant to help redevelop former Diaz site

By Kristina Gabalski, Correspondent Posted 13 January 2017 at 12:00 pm

Village police will add body cameras

HOLLEY – The Village of Holley will seek grant funding to help cover the cost of creating a concept plan and market study for the quadrant of the village which includes the site of the former Diaz Chemical plant.

Trustees voted Thursday evening to have the village’s grant writer, J. O’Connell & Associates, write an application for grant funding under the New York State Department of State’s Brownfield Opportunity Areas (BOA) Program.  The grant would help with the creation of a revitalization strategy for the former Diaz site on Jackson Street and surrounding neighborhood.

Mayor Brian Sorochty said this would be step two in a process towards revitalizing the area. The village completed step one several years ago, identifying areas in the village that are underutilized or affected by negative environmental impacts.

The mayor noted the EPA is expected to start soil remediation soon at the Diaz site.

“We would work with a consultant to develop a concept plan showing re-development and a market study,” Sorochty said of the step two grant. He suggested the site potentially could be used for housing or for a business that would bring jobs to the community.

Once the plan and study are complete, the property would be targeted for tax credits making it, “more appetizing for a developer to come in,” Sorochty said.

According to the NYS Department of State website, the BOA Program provides financial and technical assistance to municipalities for turning, “dormant and blighted parcels into productive, catalytic properties.”

The mayor said he would like to look at the the entire quadrant of the village including the eight Diaz homes, which are still owned by the EPA.

“I don’t know if there is anything (regarding the grant) that can help the homes or the LDC (Village of Holley Development Corporation),” the mayor said.

The grant application is due March 1 and the village will have to work quickly to form a steering committee including representatives from the Board of Trustees, the LDC, the Planning/Zoning Board, and consultants from Bergman Associates to determine the scope of the project.  A larger committee would be formed if the village receives the grant, Sorochty said.

He explained that the grants are 90/10 matching grants, meaning 90 percent of the funds would come from the state and 10 percent from the village. The village’s portion could be in-kind labor.

“It doesn’t have to be cash out of the village coffers,” Sorochty said.

The village will spend no more than $3,000 to have O’Connell & Associates write the grant application.

Regarding the eight Diaz homes, Sorochty mentioned the village has received recent communication from the EPA regarding the agreement to transfer ownership of the homes to the village, indicating the transfer could happen before spring.  The mayor said he is not optimistic based on the history of the village’s relationship with the EPA.

“We’ve been waiting for six weeks for six months,” he told LDC member Dr. Krista Wiley, who attended the village board meeting.

Village Code Enforcement Officer Ron Vendetti told the village board that he plans to contact Congressman Chris Collins over the issue in hopes that the new presidential administration might move the process along faster.

“There is a new outlook on the EPA,” Vendetti said, regarding the incoming Trump Administration.

In other business, Police Chief Roland Nenni reported that Village of Holley police will likely begin wearing body cameras next month.

He said police officers in the Village of Albion, where he also serves as Chief of Police, began wearing the cameras last fall.

“It has been phenomenal,” he said of the body cameras in Albion. “It’s a completely different police department once the cameras go on. There’s been a change in how we handle complaints.”

Nenni said images caught on camera are not reviewed unless there is a need, but they have been very helpful in resolving complaints quickly and easily.

Municipal Electric and Water Department Superintendent Matt Campbell reported that a few complaints continue to “trickle in” over the village’s water. In December, the village worked to address sporadic complaints of a metallic taste and smell to village water.

Tests done by the Orleans County Health Department showed the water was safe to drink and the village has been working to combat the problem through hydrant flushing and adding chlorine.

The remaining complaints, “revolve around a chlorine taste,” Campbell said. The village will begin lowering chlorine levels once the Health Department gives the OK, he said.

“We are doing our best,” Mayor Sorochty said of the village’s efforts to combat the problem.

Campbell said any residents  experiencing problems with their water can call him to have their water tested.

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