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DEC moves ahead with cleanup plans for a site in High Falls


There are more details being released about a voluntary cleanup plan for a former industrial site in Rochester's High Falls neighborhood. The proposed cleanup plan was developed by Rochester Gas & Electric.

The NYS Department of Environmental Conservation is now accepting public comments about a proposed cleanup plan for what is called the RG&E  'West Station Site'  in Rochester.

That is a site located along the west bank of the Genesee River, an area that included the former Beebee power station. That was a coal-fired plant that operated a number of years ago, and it was demolished recently.

Bob Schick is the DEC’s Director of the Division of Environmental Remediation.  He says the cleanup includes excavation of soil and sediment and some restoration of the riverbank.

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Schick says the cleanup will take a period of years to complete.

“So this is a pretty significant project especially because we’ll start working in the river and work our way back. So we’re look at probably close to a 2-year design period, and then once they get that design completed then they’ll lay out a more detailed construction schedule.”

Schick says it's likely the cleanup will cost several million dollars, a cost that will be borne by RG&E.

The utility says once the environmental work is completed, the company may re-evaluate future uses for the site, but it has no specific plans right now. 

Greentopia, a local non-profit group trying to establish an eco-district, dedicated to sustainability in the High Falls area, and co-founder Michael Phillipson says they are pleased about the ongoing remediation efforts and hope that eventually the RG&E site  can contribute to the eco district project.

“The question becomes how can you balance a great sort of eco-based development with sustainability , resiliency, along with lots of nature areas and park-like areas that would be a real attraction for some mixed-use living and playing sort of situation in this incredibly unique spot,” Phillipson told WXXI News.

If the site is ever re-developed, Schick says there could be a variety of possibilities.

“Our intent for this remedy would be to allow what we call restricted residential use which would be apartments or condominiums; that would also allow recreational use, hiking trails, picnic areas, and then commercial, because if we can allow residential, we can allow commercial,” Schick said.

Public comment is being accepted through August 18.

You can get more information about the DEC & RG&E plans here.

Randy Gorbman is WXXI's director of news and public affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.