Collaborative Cleanup Process Began in 2004, Transformed Site Into Modern Business Park
ERIE COUNTY, NY— Today, Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz was joined at the Spaulding Fibre site in Tonawanda by Commissioner of the Department of Environment and Planning Maria Whyte, elected officials, and representatives of the numerous parties involved in the remediation and redevelopment of the former industrial site to highlight the site’s renewal. Broad cooperation between Erie County, the City of Tonawanda, the Erie County Industrial Development Agency (“ECIDA”), the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (“NYSDEC”), NYS Empire State Development (“NYSESD”), the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and elected officials at the local, County, State, and Federal levels was critical to the project’s successful completion.
“This site serves as a good example of what can happen when committed partners work together for the good of the community, and how that shared work can bear fruit that may not have been realized if partnerships were not formed,” said Poloncarz. “This problem was too big for any one agency to handle alone, and it took more than eight years of work involving participation from the public and private sectors to transform what was an environmentally hazardous neighborhood eyesore into a shovel-ready business park. I would like to thank our partners in this endeavor for their vision, support, and belief that we could get this done.”
The Spaulding site is a 47-acre former manufacturing plant with 860,000 square feet of buildings that had been closed since 1992. The NYSDEC placed approximately 4 acres on the Superfund list following the closing, with the balance of the site having portions of land with contamination and vacant factory structures. These structures, designed for a specific process industry and with varying levels of contamination, were not able to be reused after being abandoned and were slated for demolition. Following Spaulding Fibre’s bankruptcy proceedings in 2005, the property was formally abandoned and left to the public to clean up. The goal of the public sector team was to demolish the buildings, remediate the environmental problems and redevelop the site as a modern business park.
NYS Assemblyman Robin Schimminger (D-C-I Kenmore) said,” A century ago, in 1911, Spaulding Fibre opened its doors and over the years became a major Tonawanda employer and taxpayer. During the latter part of the century we witnessed the demise of the company and its aftermath, an abandoned industrial ‘brownfield’ property. Today we stand together to celebrate the dawn of the Spaulding Commerce Park – a project that is poised to become an economic catalyst for Tonawanda in this, the 21st century. The site’s ‘extreme makeover’ is obvious – shovel ready acreage with new roads, sidewalks, infrastructure and landscaping where abandoned and crumbling buildings once stood. This transformation was the work of many – the state, federal, county and local governments and the private sector – who toiled in a unique partnership for eight years to get the job done. With this phase of the project complete, I now look forward to the next step – attracting businesses and jobs to this site.”
“This project is a poster child for how all levels of government – Federal, State, County and City can work together to make good things happen,” said City of Tonawanda Mayor Ronald J. Pilozzi. “Our combined efforts have removed a dangerous eyesore from the City of Tonawanda and replaced it with a unique and attractive economic development site that will help to create new jobs and build the City’s tax base. Many thanks go out to all the participants in this project.”
“This project provides a great example of how we can work together at the state and local level to ensure contaminated properties are made safe and productive once again,” said DEC Region 9 Director Abby Snyder. “The revitalization of this site is good news for the environment and the local economy.”
“ESD’s support for the transformation of the former Spaulding Fibre Company industrial site into a modern business park demonstrates the Governor’s strong commitment to making Western New York a center for private sector job creation and business development,” said Sam Hoyt, Empire State Development Regional President. “ESD’s award of $3.2 million for asbestos abatement and removal, demolition and site clearing helped lead the way in making the site shovel ready, and we are pleased to have worked together with our partners in the state, county, City of Tonawanda and National Grid on this vital restoration project.”
“Spaulding Fibre was a mainstay of employment in the City of Tonawanda for many decades, but it has also been vacant and an eyesore in the city for the past two decades,” said ECIDA Chairman John LaFalce. “I am thrilled that through the cooperation of many different levels of state and local governments it can once again be put to productive, job-creating use.”
“Our interest is to help the communities we serve be successful, including Erie County and the City of Tonawanda,” said Dennis Elsenbeck, regional director for National Grid. “We know that remediation of the Spaulding site has been a long task, and we congratulate all the partners in this effort for their diligence and dedication to the effort. This site is ready for development, and we think is poised for success.”
Work at the site included three phases of demolition and remediation, the first beginning in 2006 and the third reaching completion in 2011; roadway design, an Environmental Impact Statement and Rezoning were also completed in 2011. Roadway construction and landscaping took place in late 2011 through 2012. During demolition, scrap steel was recycled; asbestos, wood, and roofing was landfilled; and clean concrete was crushed and used as a recycled material for backfill on the site.
Funding for the project was provided by:
- Erie County $3.4 million
- NYSDEC $10.0 million
- Empire State Development $3.2 million
- HUD (through Erie County) $1.2 million
- City of Tonawanda $2.5 million
- National Grid $300,000
Total $20.6 million
The site is now officially open for business as a 47-acre, fully-serviced and shovel-ready business park with Commercial/Light Industrial Zoning. The working group is now providing information to the Buffalo Niagara Enterprise (“BNE”) to produce a selling flyer for the property; interested purchasers should contact the Mayor’s office in City Hall.
The Spaulding Fibre Company began operations on the site in 1911 as a manufacturer of vulcanized fibre, an early “plastic” made by treating paper with a zinc chloride solution. Later products produced on-site included thermosetting laminates made by impregnating natural fibers with phenolic resins. The first structures on the site were built along Wheeler Street, with over 40 building additions taking place up until 1985. Over several generations, Spaulding Fibre provided thousands of jobs to residents of the City of Tonawanda and the surrounding municipalities.