Testing requirements will lower land’s value: official

GLOVERSVILLE – Annual testing that will be required at the site of the former Independent Leather facility will lower the amount the city can get for the land, a city official said.

Department of Public Works Director Kevin Jones notified the Common Council at its meeting Tuesday the site management plan does have restrictions on what the property can be used for and comes with associated cost.

He said the ongoing environmental maintenance of the site – on South Main and Hill streets – and soil management requirements will be the responsibility of any buyer. Jones said the buyer would be responsible for having an environmental firm perform an annual inspection of the site and prepare a report for the Department of Environmental Conservation.

If deficiencies are noted, Jones said, the owner must correct them and have the site reinspected. He also said every two years the owner must have the ground water monitoring wells sampled and tested.

He estimated the cost of the annual site inspection would be in the $1,500 to $2,000 range, while the ground water sampling would cost $3,500 to $5,000.

“None of these protocols are insurmountable to a developer, but they will certainly add cost to any project which is proposed for this site,” Jones wrote in a memo to the council.

He said the plan would allow developers to get into the soil and construct a building because the soil cap presently on the site serves the same purpose as any foundation or asphalt material that would be used.

The council previously asked city Assessor Joni Dennie to determine the fair market value the city should seek for the property – either through bid or marketing commercially.

Dennie said she originally priced the 3.7-acre property at $28,500, but the update Jones provided would “significantly” reduce that figure and she requested more time to determine a more accurate price.

“I made an adjustment for the contamination issues, but I didn’t realize all the other things attached like the soil being checked every year,” Dennie said.

Jones also notified the council the cost of the work to clean the site was 90 percent funded through grants from the state; because of that, the city has an obligation to return 90 percent of any sales revenue to the state.

First Ward Councilwoman said during the meeting it would benefit the city to have the property back on the tax roll even if the initial sale doesn’t generate much revenue.

Independent Leather shut down in the early 1990s after nearly a century of operation. Four buildings were demolished at the site, the last going down in 2005. Hazardous chemicals left over from the tanning operation were removed from the site.

Since that time, the city Department of Public Works has been maintaining the land by doing routine lawn care and other maintenance.

Jones also noted in his report the associated cost to a future developer for the lawn and snow maintenance at the site would be about $4,000.

He said going forward the city will finish the environmental easement so the land can officially be transferred to the next owner before ultimately placing a “for sale” sign on the property.

Jones said DPW will then work with any potential buyer to make sure they understand the requirements before they prepare a written proposal for the council.