Economic developers have vision for vacant land, buildings

Updated: Mar. 9, 2021 at 2:01 PM EST
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LYONS FALLS, N.Y. (WWNY) - Lyons Falls moves for a makeover to the former pulp and paper property. Economic developers want to completely redo two areas that are unoccupied. They’re hoping that will bring jobs back to the community.

Some land along the Black River in Lyons Falls is vacant. And not far away, buildings at the former ReEnergy Lyonsdale biomass site are empty. But Lewis County economic developers have visions for both.

The former site of the Lyons Falls Pulp and Paper Mill, which closed in 2001, has slowly been demolished over the past ten years.

“We’ve hit a milestone with completing the demolition,” said Brittany Davis, executive director, Lewis County Economic Development.

While the demolition was happening, Davis says they spent the last decade planning and studying what the re-use of the property could be.

“Making it a community space for the community. So green space, waterfront revitalization, trails,” she said.

There’s already a tenant occupying one of the mill’s old buildings.

The last building remaining from the Lyons Falls mill is now the Black River Valley Natural Creamery. Davis says they will greatly benefit from a redeveloped downtown area.

The biomass site, which used to produce clean energy from woodchips, is three miles away in the town of Lyonsdale. It closed a few years ago, but its real estate is wide open.

“It’s a 46-acre site that’s just, I mean, obviously gorgeous but, has some industrial components as well that could really be an asset to somebody looking to do business in Lewis County,” said Cheyenne Steria, director of finance and incentives, Lewis County Economic Development.

Steria says they are completely open to ideas and are just starting the process of marketing the property.

Back in Lyons Falls, when the mill closed 20 years ago, it cost the community about 200 jobs. But Davis says locals are ready for a new era.

“So many years, they would just drive by and be reminded that the pulp and paper mill shut down. That was so many jobs that were lost and that caused all these downtown businesses to close,” she said.

Whatever comes of both spaces, Davis and Steria are hoping it will bring jobs and commerce back to the community.

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