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A New Use for Blight and Brownfields?

By Jason Weinstein.
Abandoned and dilapidated. The Gold Medal Ladders building in the Village of Newark Valley is one of the many blighted properties that dot the landscape of the Southern Tier.

"Every municipality has these kinds of things. They have old buildings which served their purpose while they were open but no longer. This building for one is a fire danger to the community and it's a depressant to land values," said Village of Newark Valley Mayor Jim Tornatore.

But Newark Valley Mayor Jim Tornatore has a plan.

"Complete turn-key installation of a solar park satisfying the municipal needs here in the Village of Newark Valley," said Tornatore.

Tornatore is trying to secure almost $400,000 in state grants to demolish the building. Then, he says, he can secure an investor to build a $750,000 solar park that could generate 250,000 kilowatts per year.

"Those 250,000 kilowatts can fully satisfy the village's municipal needs. That is our water company, our street lights, our libraries, our two municipal buildings," said Tornatore.

Municipal utilities cost the village $48,000 per year. Tornatore feels a plan like this is a better use for blighted properties and brownfields than waiting for development that may never come.

"Statistically speaking will someone come in here who needs immediate access to throughways and highways? The answer is no," said Tornatore.
So could this be a blueprint for other municipalities dealing with eyesores and empty spaces?

"I think this is not a plan B, I think it's a plan A because I believe that manufacturing at least in more rural communities is a plan B," said Tornatore.

The village is applying for grants to demolish the building through the southern tier regional economic development council. the application is due july 30th with a decision expected sometime in the fall.

***In Newark Valley, Jason Weinstein, Fox 40 HD News***