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For Immediate Release:
August 7, 2012

Secretary of State Cesar A. Perales and Lackawanna Mayor Geoffrey Szymanski Unveil City's
First Ward Brownfields Redevelopment Plan

New York Secretary of State Cesar A. Perales was joined by City of Lackawanna Mayor Geoffrey Szymanski, county and state officials to unveil the City's plan to redevelop underutilized Brownfield properties back to economic use.

The City of Lackawanna completed the Brownfield redevelopment plan for the City's First Ward with a $202,500 Brownfield Opportunity Areas grant from the New York State Department of State. The redevelopment plan establishes a direction for improving the First Ward area, with an emphasis on establishing higher value employment areas, strengthening existing neighborhoods, restoring and protecting natural areas; and providing waterfront access and recreational opportunities.

"Whether it's building a wind farm or revitalizing the area's business parks, redeveloping Lackawanna's brownfields is a key to spurring new investment and opportunities to Lackawanna," said New York Secretary of State Cesar A. Perales. "We are pleased to be funding a balanced plan to spur job growth and environmental revitalization to the area. I applaud the Mayor and all our local partners for the work they are doing to revitalize their community."

"The First Ward is the gateway into our City and development and beautification," said City of Lackawanna Mayor Geoffrey Szymanski. "The Plan being developed under New York Department of State grant will revitalize the First Ward and pave the way for further private and public investment."

The City's plan identifies five reinvestment areas and strategic sites for redevelopment, each with unique qualities, assets and potential. The reinvestment areas were determined based on a similarity of proposed land uses and the scale of existing development in the area, as well as the need for compatible design, marketing, development, and infrastructure The five Reinvestment Areas include:  Ridge Road Mixed Use 'Main Street'; Steelawanna Business Park; Hamburg Turnpike Employment Corridor; First Ward Neighborhood; and Smokes Creek Business Park.

Lackawanna has a land use legacy left from heavy industrial manufacturing that once dominated the landscape. The First Ward encompasses 2,062 acres bordered by Lake Erie on the West and centered on Ridge Road and Hamburg Turnpike (NYS Route 5).  Nearly half or 1,000 acres of this area consists of the former Bethlehem Steel site, which closed in 1983. At one time the plant was the fourth largest steel producer in the US.  It employed over 20,000 people at its peak.  Lackawanna's First Ward has experienced a number of challenges since the departure of the area's largest industrial employer, including population decline, limited investment in its aging housing stock, high poverty, high unemployment, below average income and below average educational attainment.  Furthermore, it is affected by close to 50 brownfields and vacant properties.

The redevelopment plan builds on recent successes in the area. Over the last decade several successful business have been established on underutilized and brownfield sites in the First Ward, including anew hotel, a wholesale retail coffee roaster, a multipurpose convenience store/fuel station, and a manufacturer of specialized metal components, among others, as well as the installation of the Steel Winds, a large-scale urban wind farm on the Bethlehem Redevelopment Area.