Future business park cleanup cleared by EPA

WELLSBORO – Tioga County Development Corp.’s president and CEO Bob Blair had good news for directors at the first meeting of the New Year Friday.

Not only did the organization end 2013 with a “small” surplus, income last year “shot up” to $314,000 from $197,000 the year before, and the former Westan Tannery property also cleared inspection by the Environmental Protection Agency for the remainder of clean up in the efforts to turn it into the Westfield Business Park.

The Phase 1 testing on the facility was the second step, Blair said, to be eligible for the EPA funding.

“That was completed on Monday, and when we called to check on the status, the EPA said to keep the documentation on file for when we apply for funding, so we basically got the clearance,” Blair said.

In addition, on Tuesday, the organization was able to purchase the balance of tannery property at sheriff’s sale, “so that is out of the way and it will kick in the beginning of the Keystone Opportunity Zone,” he said.

“Portions will be donated to the township and cemetery association, and one party is interested in purchasing about five acres on Mill Street,” he added.

If that wasn’t enough good news, Blair said the Department of Environmental Protection’s Industrial Site Reuse program grant has been approved, with an $11,500 county match.

“Now the consultant will start on the scope of work for the final assessment,” he added.

EPA pointed out some empty barrels on site that need to go as well as the old chemical tans, Blair said.

“They will all be demolished next year with the grant from ISRP,” he said.

Money from a $100,000 Appalachian Commission grant through the Northern Tier Regional Planning and Development Commission and $50,000 from the Northern Tier Partnership for Regional Economic Performance, a program of the state Department of Community and Economic Development will also be used, Blair said.

“And with our funds from forgiveness of county taxes we will do demolition of the tanks and the lime pit will all be cleaned up,” he added.

Money from the ISRP should be available this summer, he said.

In other business, the board discussed a feasibility study and economic analysis of the county to be conducted by Rick Kiernan, a consultant with Convergent Non-Profit Solutions, Atlanta, Georgia, at a cost of $30,000 to determine if TCDC can conduct a capital campaign to raise funds for operations, loan programs and industrial development projects.

“He will do an overview of the process, then in executive session, we will be determining which business and community leaders we will interview to get an evaluation on what they think of TCDC and the services we can provide,” Blair said.

Blair said Convergent has just completed one for STEG in Elmira, N.Y., and also has one on-going in Ithaca, N.Y.

TCDC directors also:

Approved the appointment of director Russ Hastings to serve on the loan committee in place of Sue Dillon, who left to work for NTRPDC.

Heard that the Elkland Baptist Church moved into one portion of the Elkland Community Business Center, located in the former Northern Tioga School District Administration building.

Approved a $20,500 memorandum of understanding for the Northern Tier PREP training next week.

Heard from Leadership Development Coordinator Christie Blackwell that the EITC money is now available for the three county school districts. Each one may apply for $6,514 this year from a total contribution from businesses of $30,533.