Reuse of industrial sites discussed

Old gas stations unused. Industrial park roads that were cracked and narrow and not attractive to businesses. Dry cleaners that are no longer in business and abandoned buildings.

These are the prime locations for Brownfield initiatives, sites that can be cleaned of any potential hazards and reused for the highest and best purposes.

City Council was briefed Thursday on the efforts of the Lycoming County Brownfield Coalition, which has developed partners to transform places such as the former Brodart warehouse at 1609 Memorial Ave. into a future site for modern apartments and townhouses and a neighborhood that is reaping the benefits of the development.

“Lycoming County is light years ahead,” said Kim Wheeler, lead planner at the Lycoming County Department of Planning and Community Development regarding efforts to involve the community, property owners, businesses and local governments in the parnterships.

The search is on to find the best land use for properties that otherwise might remain undeveloped due to environmental and other economic factors.

“We’ve identified about 80 hazardous sites,” said Robert D. Goldman, project director with TRC of Philadelphia. “It’s not a negative thing,” he said of the label hazardous. “It provides sellers and buyers with baseline environmental conditions that would be required by a lender,” he said.

Such initiatives as widening Reach Road near the industrial park. “Widening the road makes the industrial park more attractive to certain businesses,” Goldman said.

While not in the city, the Barto property between Muncy and Hughesville on Route 405 is an abandoned former tire dealership. The site will be razed and made ready for redevelopment.

A former state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources building in South Williamsport is being reconditioned to be rented in a 30-year lease by STEP Inc. Following renovation and removal of a mobile trailer, the site will become a community center, with emphasis on activities for senior citizens.

Council is fully in favor of such programs.

“I recently drove by Memorial Homes on the Scott Street side and the view has totally changed,” Councilman Randall J. Allison said. “It’s bright and open,” he said, adding the transformation is an example of a Brownfields site cleanup that will improve the neighborhood for 25 years down the road.

Councilwoman Liz Miele observed the intense effort to revitalize the neighborhood surrounding Memorial Homes and Memorial Park is important and has “ripples that will spread out.”

“Unless we redevelop Brownfield sites, there won’t be the opportunity to move forward,” Councilman Jonathan Williamson said.

In other action by council:

The Pennsylvania College of Technology received permission to demolish a vacant apartment building it owns at 952 First St. The property will remain vacant.