YONKERS - Yonkers City Council President Chuck Lesnick recently testified in Albany before the New York State Assembly Standing Committee on Environmental Conservation in support of the effectiveness of the New York State Brownfield Cleanup Program (BCP). The following is Lesnick’s statement before the Assembly Committee:
"Good morning, my name is Chuck Lesnick and I am the Yonkers city council president and a past president of the Westchester Municipal Officials Association, and I am here today before the Assembly Committee on Environmental Conservation to voice support for the State’s Brownfield programs and the effectiveness they have on local finances, like Yonkers.
Before entering elected office, I worked in economic development for 25 years as the director of commercial revitalization for former governor Mario Cuomo, what was then known as the Urban Development Corporation (UDC), as director of economic development for the City of Yonkers, and as an economic development specialist for the New York /New Jersey region of the United States Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD).
The current renaissance of downtown Yonkers would not have been possible without the use of the New York State Brownfield program.
We have cleaned up environmentally contaminated sites and turned them into job and revenue producing redevelopment projects. This program has broad bi-partisan support.
Former Mayor Phil Amicone, a Republican, who was also president of the New York State Brownfield Association, said it best when he testified before the legislature in September, 2007, and "recognized the need for this crucial program to continue because of the important role it has played in the redevelopment of New York’s older industrial cities. Now that the legislature has secured the future of the program and taken additional steps to prevent misuse, it’s up to state agencies, most specifically DEC (Department of Environment Conservation), to get the program up and running again to make sure that New York’s cities will continue to realize the environmental and economic benefits of Brownfield cleanups."
Yonkers’ current Mayor, Mike Spano, a Democrat, I, and our bi-partisan Council, all agree that this is an important program that needs to stay in place in order to create much needed jobs and increase our tax base that is so very vital to the budget for both Yonkers and New York State, not to mention protecting the environment.
Brownfield sites in Yonkers that have been redeveloped with benefits from the BCP include Hudson Park Apartments ($180 million residential project with more than 550 units), Main Street Lofts ($50 million residential project with more than 170 units), and i.Park Hudson ($50 million in commercial redevelopment).
Also slated for redevelopment within Brownfield sites is the $1.5 billion Struever Fidelco Cappelli (SFC) Phase One project currently awaiting funding, and the $2.3 billion Alexander Street Urban Renewal Plan. Some of these proposed developments were part of a Mid-Hudson Valley Best Plan designation just awarded $92.8 million by Governor Andrew Cuomo, the legislature, and the Regional Economic Development Councils. One of the projects, the adaptive reuse of the Glenwood Power Plant, today received one million dollars. Just yesterday, the New York State Historic Preservation Office came to a forum before the Yonkers City Council to advocate for the adaptive reuse of our city’s historic downtown with federal and state historic tax credits, blended with Brownfield tax credits.
Furthermore, seven developers came to the City Council last month and testified that they could not build affordable housing without Brownfield subsidies. This is necessary for more than just affordable housing, as older industrial cities need revenue for commercial development that creates jobs and the local economy. And that is why I am here to today to advocate for the continued funding of this much needed program.