Projects across the state are hanging in the balance as state lawmakers decide whether to reinstate the suspended Brownfield Cleanup Program before the current session ends in June.

Gov. David Paterson suspended the program until July because of widespread outcry about the program’s inefficiency. The program also faced lawsuits in state Supreme Court.

Perhaps no community could be more affected by the potential delay than Niagara Falls.

Proposed projects counting on brownfield tax credits currently include the $9 million Santarosa Holdings, Inc. tire recycling facility on College Avenue and the $220 million Northern Ethanol facility on 47th Street.

A bill has been submitted to the state Assembly which reforms the program, reworking the tax incentives and improving efficiency, said Alan Nusbaum of the city’s planning department.

On the Santarosa project, Nusbaum said, “They can’t do anything with it because the whole program’s on hold and that affects financing.”

On the Northern Ethanol project, he said, “If (the BCP reform) doesn’t go through, like, yesterday, it’s not going to happen and it’s going to go up in Canada.”

More brownfields...

And if the BCP issues weren’t evidence enough, John Austin of the Brookings Institute reminded us again last week that our industrial legacy is perhaps our biggest hurdle to a sound future.

Speaking to a crowded room of business types at the Niagara Power Project in Lewiston, Austin actually spent most of his time detailing assets across Great Lakes regions, including long stretches of waterfront, a closely integrated international economy and lots and lots of colleges.

All of Austin’s points were relevant locally, but none more so than the need for help in testing and cleaning up potentially productive land.

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