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LCDC gets nearly $1.4 million for old mill, dam projects

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The Lewis County Development Corp. was granted nearly $1.4 million toward its two primary projects as part of the north country’s $90.2 million worth of Regional Economic Development Council awards.

“All in all, I think the north country did a great job,” Lewis County Legislator Richard C. Lucas, R-Barnes Corners, chairman of the legislative Economic Development Committee, said at Thursday’s year-end meeting of the Legislature.

LCDC on Wednesday was awarded $1 million for redevelopment of the old Lyons Falls Pulp & Paper mill and an additional $375,000 for restoration of the Croghan dam.

“This should allow the development corporation to get to the point where we can actually demolish some of the buildings” at the former Lyons Falls mill site on Center Street, said Mr. Lucas, also an LCDC board member.

It also may help improve access for Kruger Energy, which operates a small dam adjacent to the site, so the Canadian company could undertake a long-discussed expansion project there, he said.

The development corporation, which owns the old mill property, was allotted $330,000 in last year’s initial round of region-based awards. That money is being used to cover the cost of environmental and asbestos surveys, engineering work and some redevelopment planning.

The Development Authority of the North Country is managing the redevelopment project.

Applied Biorefinery Sciences, a spinoff company from research conducted at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse, has been considering the site for a proposed wood-chip chemical extraction operation. However, the company would have to secure a substantial amount of startup capital and conduct a successful 12- to 18-month trial run before beginning commercial production.

In Croghan, the $375,000 will help LCDC “go the next step in refurbishing” that dam, Mr. Lucas said.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation for several years had targeted the small, concrete dam for demolition because of its designation as a high-risk hazard. However, state officials earlier this year lowered its risk classification, primarily due to preliminary results from a corporation-commissioned study by Gomez and Sullivan Engineers, Utica,

Corporation members are still awaiting a final report from the $138,000 study, funded partly by $99,000 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, for guidance on how best to restore the historic structure and refurbish it as a small hydroelectric facility.

LCDC also had sought state funding to purchase 27 miles of unused railroad lines connecting Lowville with both West Carthage and Croghan for development as multi-use recreational trails, but that was not granted. Corporation officials had indicated they would only undertake the project if the state money was awarded.

Lewis County in 2010 was awarded $450,000 from the state Environmental Protection Fund for the rail purchase, but legislators in May chose to scrap the idea as a county project and turn down the state funding after being unable to reach a suitable compromise on motorized-vehicle restrictions.

Genesee Valley Transportation, Batavia, which owns the lines, will still presumably try to rid itself of them before the end of 2013, when a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement on them expires.

State awards also included $200,000 for the Gateway Project, a Transitional Living Services of Northern New York plan to redevelop the old county jail at 7514 S. State St. into office space and supportive temporary housing for males between the ages of 18 and 25. Snow Belt Housing Co. Inc. will administer that grant.

And $30,0000 and $24,000 was awarded to the village of Lyons Falls and town of Turin, respectively, to conduct engineering studies on possible wastewater system improvements.

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