Griffiss Park garners national EPA award

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WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has named the Griffiss Business and Technology Park the winner in the Superfund National Priority List BRAC Award category in its 2021 National Federal Facility Excellence in Site Reuse Awards.

The awards highlight the significant accomplishments of federal agencies, states, tribes, local partners, and developers in restoring and reusing contaminated land at federal facilities, federal officials said. The former Griffiss Air Force Base closed in 1995 due to the BRAC Act of 1993. Now the Griffiss Business and Technology Park, it has since evolved into an economic hub for the region, officials added.

“It has been nearly 28 years since Griffiss was slated for realignment as a result of the 1993 Base Reuse and Closure Commission (BRAC),” said Steven J. DiMeo, Mohawk Valley EDGE president. “A lot of hard work and a tremendous amount of federal-state and community cooperation was required to develop and successfully implement a locally driven economic reuse strategy that has proven to be a major catalyst in the economic resurgence of the Utica-Rome MSA.”

“The EPA and the NYS Regulatory agencies provided invaluable support that has helped make Griffiss a national success story,” DiMeo added.

“Griffiss Local Development Corporation is very honored that EPA selected Griffiss Business and Technology Park as a recipient of the 2021 National federal Facility Excellence in Site Reuse Awards,” said Elis DeLia, Griffiss Local Development Corporation chair. “The GLDC board has worked tireless with our stakeholders to create a vibrant mixed-use business park at Griffiss which has successfully overcame its environmental legacy. We thank the EPA for their continued efforts as partners in the redevelopment.”

“Since the closure of the Air Force Base in 1995, Oneida County, Mohawk Valley EDGE, Griffiss Local Development Corporation and the City of Rome have worked tirelessly to transform it into the economic powerhouse that now stands as the Griffiss Business & Technology Park,” said Oneida County Executive Anthony J. Picente Jr. “With more than 70 tenants employing nearly 6,000 people, the site is now a world-renowned hub of high tech research and development, innovation and collaboration that includes county and federal government operations and private business working in conjunction to blaze a trail through the UAS, quantum computing, artificial intelligence and cyber security industries. We are extremely proud of the progress we have made and thank the U.S. EPA for recognizing our accomplishments.”

“It is a well-deserved honor for the former Griffiss Air Force Base to be selected as a 2021 Federal Facility Excellence in Site Reuse Award winner. At the outset of the BRAC our city was devastated by the loss of our active Air Force Base. However, through tremendous perseverance the community pulled together with a very disciplined blueprint for redevelopment. I have been told many times in the past several years by various military and civilian DoD employees that Rome is truly a BRAC success story. The GBTP continues to evolve with almost 6000 employees and a residential component added to the commercial businesses scattered throughout the park while maintaining our military roots with the Air Force Research Laboratory, Eastern Air Defense Sector and Defense Finance and Accounting Service anchoring the federal government facilities,” said Mayor Jacqueline M. Izzo.

The EPA added Griffiss to the National Priorities Listing (Superfund site) in mid-1980’s while it was still an active Air Force installation because of ground water contamination and a variety of other environmental issues. In all, some 3,500 acres at Griffiss were added to the Superfund site – and the environmental review and remediation process was an essential part of the process to position property for viable economic reuse, officials added.

In 2008, approximately 1,000 acres were removed from the National Priority List and the Air Force maintained its BRAC environmental investigation/remediation program as part of the BRAC recovery process. This process helped keep the environmental and economic development reuse strategies aligned, officials said, and was integral to property disposition from the Air Force to the Oneida County Industrial Development Agency and the Griffiss Local Development Corporation, which has spearheaded redevelopment of activities.

Today the 3,600-acre park includes Griffiss International Airport, numerous businesses, the New York Air National Guard Base, and the Air Force Research Laboratory. It is home to more than 72 tenants that employ nearly 6,000 people.

“Our award winners are to be commended for the creative thinking, hard work, and cooperation that went into the impressive redevelopment projects we are recognizing today,” said Barry N. Breen, Acting Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Land and Emergency Management. “Their work clearly shows that addressing contaminated properties in a way that aligns with the needs of the surrounding community leads to win-win solutions for both the environment and the economy.”

“I am pleased that the Griffiss Business and Technology Park has been recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and named a winner for the 2021 National Federal Facility Excellence in Site Reuse Awards,” said state Sen. Joseph A. Griffo, R-47, Rome. “Following the closure of the Air Force base the team partners including State and Federal agencies, Griffiss Local Development Corporation, the Oneida County Industrial Development Agency, Oneida County and the City of Rome have been steadfast in their strategic plan for the successful redevelopment of Griffiss Air Force Base. The property has been transformed into a center of innovation, research and collaboration in a variety of high-tech fields. It continues to be an important economic driver and job creator for Rome and the Mohawk Valley.”

“I am thrilled that the Griffiss Business and Technology Park was named as the winner of the 2021 National Federal Facility Excellence in Site Reuse,” said Assemblywoman Marianne Buttenschon, D-119, Marcy.  “This 3,600-acre park is a direct reflection of the hard work and dedication that our community members and agencies have poured into this site — transforming it into the strong economic force that it is today. Now home to several businesses, the New York Air National Guard, and the Air Force Research Laboratory, Griffiss Business and Technology Park has raised living and business standards, and created new opportunities and resources that have caused a chain reaction of neighborhood-wide improvement throughout the Mohawk Valley. This award is a shining example of what comes from proper investment, attention and the diligence of a community that’s willing to fight for their livelihood.”

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