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MIDDLEPORT – Two large abandoned industrial buildings in Middleport could be put on the road to redevelopment if Niagara County succeeds in obtaining another federal brownfields grant.

The county has had frequent success in recent years in obtaining brownfields money from the Environmental Protection Agency. The county set up its own Brownfields Development Corp., which has been dispensing the money from past EPA grants in the form of grants and loans to projects at former industrial sites around the county.

The county’s latest $200,000 from the EPA will run out next month, said Amy E. Fisk, senior planner in the Economic Development Department, who serves as president of the brownfields corporation.

The application for another $200,000 grant will focus on a plan to develop an area-wide brownwfields plan for the Village of Middleport.

The main targets are the former Norco properties at Maple Avenue and Elizabeth Street, and the old Dunn and Schoolcraft facility at 140 Telegraph Road.

Both sites “are severely tax-delinquent and contain massive industrial buildings.”

Fisk told the County Legislature’s Economic Development Committee that the county won’t foreclose on buildings that are believed to have serious environmental issues, no matter how deep in arrears their property taxes are.

Thus, the Middleport sites sit idle, but Fisk wrote in a memo to lawmakers, “Due to the location of these sites in the heart of the village, there is good potential for redevelopment, but a considerable amount of work would be needed to determine the highest and best uses for these sites.”

Although a consultant would be hired, determining those uses would require a “community-driven” plan with residents involved from the start, Fisk said. A steering committee would be created with members from a wide range of community groups, not just government officials.

The county is seeking letters of commitment by Sept. 1 from groups willing to take part. Information about that is available from Fisk at 278-8754 or by email at amy.fisk@niagaracounty.com.

There are 20 grants available nationwide. If the county receives its latest $200,000 request, there would be no county matching funds. The EPA application deadline is Sept. 22. If the money is approved, the project would start in May and continue for two years.

email: tprohaska@buffnews.com