Post-GM Model Envisioned For New York Town In northern New York, the town of Massena is trying to figure out how to turn a toxic former GM plant into something that could benefit the region. Massena is receiving the largest chunk of a settlement that requires the auto giant to help clean up its hazardous properties.

Post-GM Model Envisioned For New York Town

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Reporter Ryan Morden takes us to the home of the most contaminated property in the northern New York town of Massena.

RYAN MORDEN: Here on Main Street in front of Town Hall, Massena's newly elected mayor, James Hidy, says it used to be vibrant back in the '70s, when he was an employee at the General Motors plant.

JAMES HIDY: I moved to Detroit, transferred to Detroit, moved back after 25 years and, you know, it's just not the town that it was. Obviously General Motors has left. Everything downsized.

MORDEN: A regional task force is charged with figuring out how the sparsely populated community can cope with the loss of the power train plant, one the area's biggest economic drivers. Patrick Turbett is the head of that task force.

PATRICK TURBETT: When you pick up the newspaper or you turn on the TV and you see someone from GM with a big smile on their face, you know, patting themselves on the back on how well they're doing, and you're the person living in the community with the EPA Superfund site and all your people laid off, it's a little hard to be as happy.

MORDEN: The plant's Superfund designation means it has hazardous substances in the soil. The EPA's Anne Kelly oversees the Massena property and says because of that, and several other reasons, the building will be demolished. For one...

ANNE KELLY: The facility is very outdated.

MORDEN: At 50 years old, the building itself has become a hazard.

KELLY: Chemicals that have been used - paints, mercury switches, asbestos - there are a number of contaminants that are incidental to manufacturing that will be a waste stream(ph) from this facility.

MORDEN: Back in front of Town Hall, Massena Mayor James Hidy says he doesn't expect to land another big manufacturer that can bring 1,000 or 2,000 jobs.

HIDY: I look at it as a new chapter for Massena. You know, manufacturing as we knew it yesterday is just not here - throughout the U.S.

MORDEN: For NPR News, I'm Ryan Morden.

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