Planners of an inland cargo port are looking at an industrial waste bed in Camillus as an alternative site to an abandoned Jamesville quarry where neighbors have fought development plans.
Camillus Town Supervisor Mary Ann Coogan said engineers and officials associated with the project showed her conceptual plans for a cargo loading and off-loading facility at a former Allied Chemical site known as waste bed No. 12.
The site is south of CSX railroad tracks, between Route 695 and Airport Road. Created in 1968, it contains industrial waste, primarily calcium carbonate, from Allied's soda ash manufacturing operations in nearby Geddes, which closed in 1986.
She said the site is one of six sites, including the abandoned quarry in Jamesville and a CSX rail yard in Manlius, that are being studied as part of a required review of the project's potential environmental impacts.
However, Coogan said engineers from C&S Cos., the engineering firm preparing the environmental impact report, told her the waste bed in Camillus is the preferred site for the cargo facility because it:
• Is isolated from residential areas, a big plus in light of the opposition that the Jamesville site has run into.
• Is located next to a railroad line.
• Has plenty of acreage for loading and off-loading cargo from freight trains and for associated warehousing and manufacturing facilities.
• Can be accessed from Pumphouse Road, which runs off the ramp from Interstate 690 to Route 695.
• Presents an opportunity to turn a polluted property into an economic engine with the potential to create hundreds of jobs.
"They felt this was the best site," she said.
The Port of Oswego Authority is developing plans for the port in conjunction with the state Department of Transportation and is the lead agency in charge of preparing the environmental impact statement.
Port of Oswego Executive Director and CEO Zelko Kirincich said he could not comment on the Camillus site until a draft of the environment impact report is released.
Gary Holmes, director of communications for the Department of Transportation, also declined to comment on the site.
"The draft environmental impact statement for the inland port project is still in development," he said in response to an inquiry from syracuse.com. "Until the DEIS is complete, no site can be selected and we can't comment on potential locations."
Coogan said Port of Oswego officials contacted her about the site this spring and showed her a PowerPoint presentation depicting a cargo facility at the site. The plans showed a cargo loading and off-loading facility on the north side of the CSX tracks and a site for warehousing and manufacturing facilities to the south of the tracks, she said.
She said she toured the site with C&S engineers in late spring and again a few weeks later with Kirincich, CenterState President Robert Simpson and a representative from Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney's office.
The waste bed is owned by Allied's successor, Honeywell International Inc., and sits next to another waste bed (No. 13) where Honeywell recently dumped dredge material from Onondaga Lake.
Camillus officials unsuccessfully opposed the dumping of the dredge material, but Coogan said she and the rest of the Camillus Town Council would support the development of waste bed No. 12 into an inland port if it is selected.
"It's a great project," she said. "We're all on board."
The Port of Oswego Authority last year proposed building the cargo facility at an abandoned 225-acre quarry on the north side of Interstate 481 in Jamesville. Modeled after the Virginia Inland Port in Front Royal, Va., the facility would serve as a logistics hub for cargo brought in by ship to the heavily congested Port of New York and New Jersey and transported by rail to Jamesville.
Proponents said the facility could create as many as 2,000 jobs in warehousing and manufacturing plants that companies would build near the facility to reduce transportation costs.
The Central New York Regional Economic Development Council, one of 10 regional economic development councils created by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, included plans for the facility in its successful bid for $500 million in state funding under the governor's Upstate Revitalization Initiative.
However, residents of the hamlet of Jamesville to the south of the old quarry have opposed the project, fearing it would generate significantly more train traffic through their community.