Today, at the former Bethlehem Steel Site in Hamburg, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer pushed the U.S. Army Corps (USACE) to expedite a key review of wetlands on the vacant former Bethlehem Steel property in Hamburg, a site that FedEx, or other similar companies, could potentially turn into a major distribution center and a location for up to 400 new jobs. Schumer explained that this wetlands review is the last remaining hurdle before construction on the site can begin, and that all parties involved are willing to build once the USACE provides a clear delineation of where the wetlands are located. Schumer said that with this wetlands review in hand, the property will be even more attractive to a company like FedEx, and Schumer will urge them to commit to the site.
“The former Bethlehem Steel site in Hamburg holds massive, job-creating potential, and this federal wetlands review is the final piece of the puzzle that the Town of Hamburg needs to begin re-developing the site,” said Schumer. “This review will make it clear where the wetlands are located on the property, so that the town and the developer can build around them, and the important work of locking in FedEx as the site’s principal tenant can begin. The Army Corps must not wait any longer to provide this review; it is overdue, and they should complete it ASAP. There are too many potential new jobs hanging in the balance for bureaucracy to stand in the way.”
The former Bethlehem Steel site is a 129-acre parcel of land in the Town of Hamburg, along Route 5, that is ripe for development. While no final decision has been made, Schumer said that FedEx has expressed interest in having a distribution facility there – and there is already a developer lined up to build a facility, however the parcel contains wetlands that must be built around. Before any work can get underway, the USACE must issue a review of the property detailing exactly where those wetlands are located. The Town of Hamburg and Hamburg IDA have both said that once this review is in hand, the developers could begin construction – they would construct the property around the wetlands – and FedEx, or any other potential tenant, could commit to move into the space once it is completed. However, until Hamburg officials receive this USACE wetlands review, development remains at a standstill.
Schumer said that officials from the USACE visited the site back in April and identified where the wetlands were located on the property. Since then, however, the Town of Hamburg has not received a final Jurisdictional Determination from the USACE, which is the documentation that is needed before work can get underway or any agreements can be signed. Schumer explained that it is imperative that the USACE provide this Jurisdictional Determination to Hamburg officials right away because any delays in the project could jeopardize the potential to lure a large employer, like FedEx, to the site.
Therefore, Schumer is calling on the USACE to expedite its wetlands review and provide the official Jurisdictional Determination right away in order for planning and construction to get underway, and for potentially hundreds of jobs to come to Hamburg. Schumer also said he will personally urge FedEx to commit to the site. He noted that Western New York is quickly becoming a hub for the shipping and logistics industry, due to its strategic location near the Canadian border and on key shipping routes, and the former Bethlehem Steel site is a perfect location for a company like FedEx. According to Schumer, with the USACE review in hand, FedEx will have the assurance it needs that this site can be a viable option.
Schumer was joined by Town of Hamburg Supervisor, Steven Walters; Town of Hamburg Development Agency Director, Michael Bartlett; Representatives from Wendel Duchscherer Engineers; and other local officials.
“The Town of Hamburg has always been a great place to live, work, and grow your business and we have been doing our best to build on that by attracting new employers to the region. Working with Senator Schumer, it is our hope that we can soon have hundreds of new jobs right here in Hamburg. This project is a true testament to what can happen when all levels of government and the private sector work closely together,” said Steve Walters, Hamburg Town Supervisor.
“The Hamburg Industrial Development Agency has been working for a number of years to help position this part of the former Bethlehem Steel site for redevelopment. Senator Schumer’s support both for the traffic break in access and now for the expedited review of this wetlands delineation has been critical. Working with the Senator, as well as State, County, and Town officials we are hopeful we can have this site ready and employing people in our community soon,” said Michael Bartlett, Executive Director of the Hamburg IDA.
In March of 2014, Schumer also worked to make this site more attractive for potential development by urging the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to expeditiously review and approve traffic pattern upgrades at the entrance of the site. Schumer made the case that the installation of a traffic signal and an access lane to the site could be a final step in attracting new companies, like FedEx, to Hamburg, but that a prolonged review by the State Dept. of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration could put that on hold. Schumer said that this hurdle has been cleared, and NYSDOT and FHWA have agreed to grant the site the break-in access they are seeking once the project moves forward.