Holley pushes to form LDC to acquire old school, ‘Diaz homes’

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 15 October 2014 at 12:00 am

Photos by Tom Rivers – The old Holley High School has been decaying at the corner of routes 31 and 237, a prominent part of Holley.

HOLLEY – The Village Board thinks it may have a solution to move along the redevelopment of the old Holley High School and to also get eight homes currently owned by the federal government back into the hands of residents.

The village is working on establishing a local development corporation. That entity could hold title on the properties and also be vehicle for directing resources to the sites, with a goal of getting them back on the tax rolls and contributing to the community, said Mayor John Kenney.

Other communities have LDCs to take possession of troubled properties and work on their development. Holley will need to name members to a board for the LDC and legally create the corporation. Kenney said those efforts are in process.

The village has been pressuring the federal Environmental Protection Agency for years to put eight houses back on the market. Congressman Chris Collins and U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer have also pushed the EPA to release the sites so they could be sold as residences. The houses are on Jackson, Geddes, Van Buren and North Main streets.

Jackson Street in Holley is a tree-lined neighborhood with residential appeal, Mayor John Kenney said. Some of the houses owned by the EPA are on the street, which also used to be home to Diaz Chemical.

The houses were feared contaminated from a leak at the former Diaz Chemical plant in January 2002. The houses have been cleaned and deemed safe. Yet the EPA still sits on them. Kenney said the village will offer to take the sites through the LDC so they can be sold. Proceeds from the sale would go to the LDC and be directed to other community benefit projects, Kenney said.

That could include helping with the rehabilitation of the old school. That site has been abandoned for nearly two decades and stuck in limbo through a bankruptcy.

Local governments have declined to take possession of the site due to the potential liability. Kenney said an LDC may been better able to push development at the old school.

The village also is trying to get the school on the National Register of Historic Places. That status could draw grants and tax credits for a redevelopment project at the school.