The crumbled walls and hazardous materials at the old CharlesTown Mall complex will remain for some time, but some federal money has been allocated to the site to help with cleanup efforts.

Congressman Anthony Brindisi announced $800,000 in Environmental Protection Agency grant money on Tuesday that will help get the ball rolling, following a massive fire at the complex in late August. In announcing the grant, Brindisi said the money could be used for safety and structural concerns, including some cleanup, a perimeter fence to keep squatters and others off the site, and an evaluation of remaining hazardous materials at the location.

Asbestos is among those toxins that have already been identified among the ruins, Brindisi said.

Ruins from CharlesTown Mall in Utica. Photo taken on Oct 19, 2020 (Jeff Monaski, WIBX 950)
Ruins from CharlesTown Mall in Utica. Photo taken on Oct 19, 2020 (Jeff Monaski, WIBX 950)

The 22nd District Democrat called it a good step forward in the overall process and said the large burden shouldn't fall solely on taxpayers in the city of Utica and town of Frankfort, both of which are home to the sprawling complex straddling the Utica-Frankfort municipal line. He also thanked US Senator Charles Schumer for his efforts in helping to secure the money.

“After the fire, Senator Schumer and I took immediate steps to bring EPA and State DEC to the site and we demanded action to ensure safety for concerned families. With this announcement, we will be able to begin cleanup and move forward. Working together with federal, state, and local officials, we can turn the page on the CharlesTown mall and make a safer area for all,'' Brindisi said.

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When asked about the facility's current owner and their responsibility in the cleanup process, Frankfort Town Supervisor Glenn Asnoe said CharlesTown Mall LLC had 'basically walked away from the property' and, has or would be seeking bankruptcy protection.

Securing the site with a perimeter fence in an important first step to avoid future fires or injuries there, Asnoe said.

Work in the project could begin within the next few weeks, Brindisi said.

A price tag for the entire cost to remove debris and hazardous materials that remain at the more than 100-year-old facility is not known, officials said.


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