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Franklin County IDA to explore development at landfill

MALONE — The Franklin County Industrial Development Agency plans to explore possible commercial uses for the county landfill and the surrounding area — an idea first broached several years ago by members of the county’s Solid Waste Management Authority.

IDA CEO Jeremy Evans listed three future projects he wants the agency to begin actively looking into: development possibilities related to the landfill, the construction of a rail spur in Fort Covington and working more closely with communities outside the three “core villages” — Malone, Saranac Lake and Tupper Lake — on economic development grants.

“We’re at the point now where it’s time to get serious,” Evans said.

The landfill property is an ideal site for potential industrial development, Evans said Tuesday during the monthly IDA meeting. There is plenty of property available; the methane generated by the decaying trash could be used as a power source and materials taken to the landfill — specifically recyclables — could be a source of raw materials for the right industry, he said.

Westville Supervisor Rod Lauzon noted that landfill officials had previously applied for a grant to use the methane but had been unsuccessful. The bulk of the landfill is located in Westville.

Evans noted that there are no specific plans for development at the site at this time. The first step will be to barnstorm ideas about potential businesses that could be interested in the location, he said.

Former Solid Waste Management Authority Chairman Tim Carter had proposed a similar use for the landfill several years ago, but his idea was met with disinterest if not outright skepticism from some county leaders and even members of the authority board.

“Sometimes it takes people a little bit longer to see things,” Carter said in a telephone interview Wednesday.

Carter’s plan envisioned the creation of a methane-powered industrial park and construction of a rail spur to serve the site.

“The possibilities are endless if they can see the forest for the trees,” Carter said. “I applaud the IDA for stepping up to the plate and saying, ‘Let’s look at this.'”

Carter’s rail spur plan would have served the landfill area; the spur proposed Tuesday by Evans would be farther to the west and nearer the IDA-owned former Gildan clothing factory in Bombay. A 2017 study of creating a spur to the Gildan property found the idea was feasible but would cost more than three-quarters of million dollars to bring to fruition.

Evans said the IDA will have to look more deeply into the spur plan, but repeated arguments from the earlier proposal that a spur could open up the area for more development.

“Infrastructure is always a priority,” Evans said, noting that Franklin County’s industrial development has been hampered by a relative lack of infrastructure compared to neighboring counties.

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