Spring cleanup

The Dunkirk harborfront is getting a little bit cleaner.

Work is under way on the cleanup of the former Bertges property located on the city waterfront between Demetri’s Restaurant and the former Stefan’s Marina.

The work is being done under the auspices of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

Dunkirk Development Director Steve Neratko talked about the cleanup during what was going to be a meeting of the Dunkirk Local Development Corporation. An absence of a quorum prevented any official business from taking place but a short informational session was held.

“We expect them to be done in a week or so. It shouldn’t have any effect on the festivals or any of the events down there,” Neratko stated. “Not a whole lot going on in the parking lot anyway, so there shouldn’t be any issues. It’s a good step in the right direction in getting a new use at this site. … It will be cleaned up and we’ll begin to further our marketing efforts.”

Neratko said there were a few underground storage tanks, some contamination from vehicle jacks and contaminated soil.

“They’re taking out 2,800 tons of soil. Over 100 of the large dump truck loads of soil, so it’s a pretty good job,” Neratko continued. “Basically, they have to go down until they hit water in those areas. That would be about 8 to 10 feet.”

Neratko said the material needs special handling and would be taken to a dump in Tonawanda.

“The county landfill is able to take it but when DEC went out to bid for those services, from what I understand, the county’s rate was much higher than Tonawanda’s even with the shipping,” he explained. “Tonawanda takes a lot of this stuff every day so they can come in and have it in batches. It should be completed in the next week or so and that will be a major step in development.”

Another site the DLDC owns and is looking to develop is the Flickinger Building on Washington Avenue between Second and Third streets. The DLDC is working with Brian Burke, the developer of the Chadwick Bay Lofts which neighbors the Flickinger Building. The release of the state’s Consolidated Funding Application information on June 3 may help in the development.

“Relatively soon we’ll kind of know what’s available for that facility,” Neratko explained. “While we were over there the other day there were a few safety concerns that came up. They weren’t huge. … We had to take care of a couple small issues.”

According to Neratko, the issues included an open space in the back of the building that a trespasser could have used to fall 4 to 5 feet into the basement. Loose bricks on a windowsill of an upstairs window were also fixed.

“The worry was if one of those bricks went the whole windowsill was going to come. … We got those taken care of, they were relatively small bills so we’re happy with that,” Neratko explained. “We will continue to work on that building as well.”

Dolce later explained the end of the month, which is Friday, was the target completion date for the Bertges cleanup.

“It may or may not be done, that was the target completion date. Once that’s done we’ll look to reengage a developer for the property,” he added. “The cost is to be determined. We’ll have to work that out with the DEC.”

Pursuing payments from the prior owners would be a DEC decision, according to Dolce.

Dolce was asked if the lack of a quorum was a surprise.

“We set these meetings far enough in advance but normally we send a reminder and today we did not. So maybe that had something to do with it,” he replied. “We didn’t have a meeting last month so without issuing another reminder, out of sight out of mind. It was OK because we didn’t have any action we were looking to take today.”

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