Tannery site reuse project nearing completion

JOHNSTOWN – The final dirt-spreading portion of the multi-year redevelopment project at the former Karg Bros. tannery should be done in about a week, a city official said Thursday.

“We are currently 90 percent complete with covering the site,” said City Engineer Chandra Cotter. “Our goal is to be 100 percent complete by the end of next week.”

The tannery was once visible from North Perry Street and its property encompassed a widespread area east of Crescendoe Road, East Canal Street and East Fulton Street.

Cotter said the dirt-hauling project was “quite the scene” in the past week with great municipal cooperation. By midweek, she said trucks were on hand, not only from the city of Johnstown, but the Gloversville-Johnstown Wastewater Treatment Facility, Fulton County Highway and Facilities Department, Fulton County Landfill and the city of Gloversville.

“Here is a great example of multiple cities and county agencies working together in support of a great project for the area,” Cotter said. “All of these agencies have been more than helpful these last few weeks in the city’s efforts to cover the Karg’s site and we appreciate the hard work being put in by all.”

The municipalities are assisting the city of Johnstown with final portions of a longtime project to redevelop the site of the former tannery off North Perry Street. Hundreds of people once worked at the giant red plant until its parent firm – the Feuer Leather Group – shut it down in 1995 and left the area. The city took over the property and the facility was torn down in 1999.

Any new, future redevelopment and reuse at the six-acre site would be a successful end to a more than 15-year project involving the city with ongoing cleanup.

The city Department of Public Works is working with the state Department of Environmental Conservation. The city is also receiving major assistance from the Fulton County Department of Solid Waste, which is contributing 17,000 cubic yards of dirt for the site.

City officials last fall, including former Mayor Sarah Slingerland, said clean-up of the Karg Bros. site has been through “sheer persistence” on the part of the city, including utilization of the Brownfields program through several administrations.

The city has been working with consultant Arcadis-US of Clifton Park to clean up pollutants at the site.

Cotter said some surveying work will be done soon and once completed hydroseeding can begin at the site, when weather allows. After all site work activities are completed, the city can submit for a Record of Decision, known as an ROD, to the state DEC. That means no further action is required and the record must be approved by the state.

After that approval the former tannery site will be “cleared for the city to do what it wants with it,” Cotter said.