DUNKIRK – The future of the abandoned NRG Plant in Dunkirk will be considered through a $60,000 redevelopment feasibility grant announced by Rep. Tom Reed.
Reed announced a $60,000 grant to the city of Dunkirk for a redevelopment feasibility study of the NRG power plant site, saying the study is only the first step in trying to restore the use of the property.
“When we heard last year NRG would abandon the site, resulting in lost jobs and reduced tax revenue we immediately jumped into action to see what other possibilities this site could hold,” Reed said. “This is the first step in the process of working for the community we care so deeply about to ensure this site has a fair shot at being repurposed.”
During a teleconference with reporters Friday morning, WNYNewsNow asked Reed to detail the impact of the plant closure and the feasibility study. Reed said that the 2018 closure of the plant was another example of the “extreme liberal agenda” that is coming out of Albany regarding an “attack” on the development of natural gas.
“The NRG Plant, I think, can be a better symbol of the result of that attack,” Reed said. “That was a plant that was going to be converted, that was a plant that was going to stay in existence and stay on the tax roll. Now we have to deal with it as a community, as leaders in the community.”
“With this feasability study that we were able to secure at the Federal level, we’ll be able to try to put a vision together to get the plant back into a place of functionality and a place as a positive contributor.”
He went on to thank Chautauqua County Executive George Borrello and Dunkirk Mayor Willie Rosas for support in advocating for the grant.
In the summer of 2018, NRG announced they would not pursue repowering the plant because of the costs involved, but the process has been ongoing over the past several years.
Reed’s announcement said that not only have jobs been lost, the loss of tax revenue has also had an impact on the Dunkirk area and required the use of state aid to cover the losses in 2017, through the work of Assemblyman Andy Goodell and State Sen. Cathy Young. Across the three entities, $5.4 million was received in state aid for 2017.
The grant, generated by the Appalachian Regional Commission, will fund a study to guide the redevelopment of the site into a productive and tax-generating property and includes an assessment of the assets and liabilities of the site, market analysis, reuse strategy alternatives, and recommended actions.
“I want to thank the Appalachian Regional Commission, Tom Reed, state elected officials, local elected officials, Chautauqua County IDA and our local planning and development team for helping to secure such an important grant for the City of Dunkirk and Chautauqua County,” Rosas said. “This grant will be the first step in determining the best strategy for the reuse of the NRG site in the City of Dunkirk. We look forward to developing a strong plan that identifies current site conditions, market analysis, and feasibility options that will guide the future reuse of the site and create economic prosperity in our City and Chautauqua County.”
“Redevelopment of the NRG site into productive use is a major priority and a goal with the potential to generate new jobs and tax revenue for the community,” Senator Catharine Young, 57th District, said. “While the $45 million state mitigation fund we successfully established to help offset revenue losses has given the city a financial cushion in the short-term, finding an alternative use is essential to protecting our taxpayers from any additional burden in the future. My thanks go out to Tom for this grant, which represents an important step towards repurposing the site to meet Dunkirk’s needs and complement other economic development occurring in the region. I look forward to continuing to work together with the Congressman, and all state and local officials, as this process moves forward.”
“The challenge of the closure of the NGR plant in Dunkirk also presents a tremendous opportunity to reimagine what can be done on that site to enhance our beautiful waterfront. This ARC grant will give us the needed funding for a comprehensive look at the possibilities.” Borrello said. “I am grateful for Tom’s direct advocacy for this grant and I also thank ARC for its understanding of the critical need in our county.”
Reporter Matt Hummel contributed to this report.