The centerpiece to County Executive Kathleen Jimino’s 2014 State of the County address delivered at the March 11 legislative meeting was the announcement that a new purchaser had been found for the former Fort Orange Paper Company plant in Castleton. The Fort Orange Paper Company was a major source of employment and opportunity for generations in southern Rensselaer County until it was closed suddenly about 15 years ago.
The late Ed Swartz, a legislator who served as a representative of District 4, towns of Schodack, Sand Lake and Nassau, played a major role in getting the property ready for new owners. When the property was essentially abandoned, there was some level of contamination discovered on the property. The contamination was a deterrent to the site being utilized for new uses by new owners.
Ed spent great amounts of time working to enlist the help of the federal Environmental Protection Agency to undertake a clean-up of the property. Ed’s persistence paid off, and EPA cleaned-up about half of the property, helping position the site for future use. That work paid off in some ways with the purchase agreement between the county and MiniMill, who will develop a new paper mill on the site.
Majority Leader Ken Herrington remembered Ed’s contributions to the project with comments during the March 11 meeting. Ken’s comments:
“I think it is appropriate to recognize the important role played in this project by someone who is not here with us tonight.
For years, in the early part of the last decade, Legislator Edward Swartz worked very hard to keep the Fort Orange property in the public consciousness. He remembered the days when Fort Orange ran three shifts a day and employed hundreds in his home town.
Ed took it upon himself to encourage the federal Environmental Protection Agency to begin a clean-up of the Fort Orange property. Thanks in large part to Ed, and resolutions adopted by this body, over half the property was cleaned-up.
So tonight, I think it is fitting to recognize the efforts of Ed to return Fort Orange to active use, and to once again employ residents of this county. We remember and Ed’s work and recognize that work played a role in the resolution we are adopting.”