ELMIRA, N.Y. (WENY) -- The Chemung County Legislature is asking New York State to help clean up contamination at the Elmira High School (EHS). The legislature unanimously passed the resolution calling on the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), and Governor Andrew Cuomo, to speed up the cleanup at the school. Last month the legislature brought forth a similar resolution asking Cuomo and the DEC to take action on the property under the "Brownfield Cleanup Program". Through the DEC program, it encourages private sector cleanups to promote redevelopment and revitalize communities.
"This contamination is a big issue," said Chemung County15th legislative district representative, Rodney Strange. "Right now they're working on the school and trying to clean the school up. We thought it was important that we focus on the school with this particular resolution because this issue is not going to go away. This encompasses many, many neighborhoods on the southside away from the school."
But after hearing concerns from the public about its wording, the legislature tabled the resolution so they could rework it before they put it to a vote. For years, people in the county have been talking about potential contamination on the school site from the former Sperry Remington factory. Now, members of the legislature hope this will be the first step in the path towards cleaning up the school completely.
"As the school district does their capital construction projects, they've been cleaning it up," said Strange. "We think that it needs to be done much more expeditiously and done much sooner. That's why we're asking the Governor because he's the one that has the power to make this cleanup go faster."
Strange says the next step is to work with the community coalition in Elmira to urge the DEC, and other state organizations, to get this contamination on Elmira's southside cleaned up once and for all.
"We have to get this investigation underway because these neighborhoods have been gone for over forty years without ever having anything done to them," said Strange. "There's god knows what underneath that ground and we need to have action now."