Oct 16, 2007 Max Mitchell Uncategorized
At its Oct. 9 meeting, the Solvay Village Board approved construction of a hardwoods sawmill, which will reclaim acres of land and bring several new jobs to the area. The mill will also bring scores of large flatbed lumber trucks to and from the village each day.
The sawmill, which will produce hardwood products from logs, will be on a 67-acre plot just north of Gere Lock Road. The site will contain the mill, two storage facilities, an office and a kiln used for drying the wood.
The mill was first proposed in mid-2006 by O’Brien & Gere, the engineering company developing the land. Construction is set to begin before the end of the year, and the site is to be fully functional by 2009.
The property is currently owned by Honeywell, but Hardwoods of Syracuse LLC., will be the owners of the new mill. Although the site has been the property of Honeywell since the 1920’s, it is on a former Allied Chemical landfill, which has been primarily abandoned for some time.
“This will put 67 acres of abandoned land back on the tax roll,” said Peter Grevelding, senior vice president at O’Brien & Gere. He could not specify how much taxes for the site might be.
O’Brien & Gere brought the project before the Solvay village board in August. Since that time, they and Honeywell have been identifying the pollutants and calculating the costs and necessary procedures for redeveloping the landfill.
Grevelding said the waste on the site is mostly limestone and other pollutants left over from the chemical factory, and is considered semi-volatile. Construction will include clearing the land and “capping,” or paving over the landfill before it can be further developed.
Along with the temporary construction jobs, O’Brien & Gere expects the mill to create 50 new factory jobs for Solvay residents.
At the village meeting, several residents brought up concerns about the three acres of wetlands that will be flattened out during the construction process. But, Grevelding said, O’Brien & Gere will work with several organizations to create and improve wetlands elsewhere to mitigate the damage.
The project also includes improving the storm water runoff in the area, which will also help to improve the quality of the adjacent wetlands, Grevelding added.
The major concern for the residents and members of the village board has come from the amount of traffic that will be added.
Grevelding said there will be 60 flatbed trucks that will come to and from the site daily, along with the 50 or so employees.
Although concerns were raised about the noise level and the pollution from the trucks, the main concern has been which route the trucks should take.
From the map, the shortest route from I-690 (where the trucks will be coming from) to the site seems to go over Gere Lock Road. However, the bridge on Gere Lock has been down for over five years.
The village board recommended that the truck route go from Bridge Street to Mathews Avenue, where the main entrance to the site will be located. But this idea was hotly contested as it brings the traffic closer to the Solvay’s main strip.
Although O’Brien & Gere do not plan to rebuild the bridge on Gere Lock, the residents along Gere Lock are very opposed to the idea of their street being used for any industrial use.
“It’s not something any of us wanted,” said Gere Lock resident Beverly Freitas. She also spoke at the meeting in September, and formally petitioned against the use of the road in the Oct. 9 village meeting. “They don’t want 60 trucks going through their homes,” she said of her fellow residents.
Freitas, who has been living on the road nearly all her life, voiced concerns about her grandson who catches the school bus along Gere Lock.
“If you come face-to-face with a logging truck, there would be a fatality,” Freitas said. “I just don’t think anybody thought too much about it.”
Although there are no plans to rebuild the bridge currently, Mayor Modafferi said it would be impossible to say whether or not the bridge will be fixed several years “down the road.”
Although the bridge is scheduled for repair soon, the portions of the Gere Lock Road considered for use will be improved. Currently the narrow road is rife with holes; weeds and brush lean over its edges.
John Fall, 2nd ward trustee, said the road was expanded several years ago by the village, but since it was not intended for industrial use at the time, it lacks a proper base to support any increased traffic.
At the meeting an amendment was made to have O’Brien & Gere, along with Honeywell, cover the costs of installing a proper base for the road.
Freitas said, although her concerns were addressed in the meeting, she is still leery.
“If they fix the road and make it wider, OK, fine,” Freitas said. “But believe me I’ll be watching.”