Julius wants industry at Karg’s site

JOHNSTOWN – Mayor Michael Julius wants the former Karg Bros. tannery site turned into an industrial site again. The plan is at odds with the city’s Comprehensive Plan, which recommended the site become a park.

“Personally, I want to see it become an industrial site again,” Julius said. “We’ve got enough places to mow.”

The mayor also revealed a business person a couple months ago expressed “some passing interest” in doing some light manufacturing at the former Karg’s site. He declined to identify the potential business or provide further details.

The six-acre former tannery site – currently owned by the city – has been transformed into what city officials said will eventually be a usable piece of property.

City officials later this year or next year will have to make a decision on what to do with the site. Dirt was brought into the site earlier this year, and the site was hydroseeded. The city has worked with consultant Arcadis-US of Clifton Park to clean up pollutants at the site. The Department of Public Works spread dirt at the site. Soil donated by the Fulton County Department of Solid Waste was spread throughout the site during the past winter and spring.

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

The tannery once employed hundreds of workers. The Feuer Leather Group shut down the tannery in 1995 and left the area. The city took over the property, and the facility was torn down in 1999. Now, city officials are looking for a use for the site.

The city’s non-binding Comprehensive Plan approved in 2008 recommended a new Center City Park at the site. But Julius said a park may not be the best use of the Karg’s property.

“I want it to become reindustrialized,” Julius said. “We’ve got to get people working.”

Third Ward Councilwoman Helen Martin said she might have to “respectfully disagree” with the mayor.

“That’s a tough one,” Martin said. “Initially, the idea was to turn it into a park. What kind of industry can you put in downtown Johnstown?”

She said she’s leaning toward a “park or recreational use” for the site, but added it will be a “tough” decision for city officials.