The former Westfield tannery property is still being cleaned up, with expected completion this April.
“It’s taken us a long time to get to this point,” said Kristin Hamilton, executive director of Develop Tioga (formerly Tioga County Development Corporation), a nonprofit organization committed to community and economic development in the county.
Develop Tioga owns the 18-acre property on Church Street/Route 349, which was designated as a Keystone Opportunity Zone by the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development in 2014.
“There have always been three goals,” said Hamilton. “Cleanup of the property, to be able to move forward with employment and economic development partners, and to bring in opportunities to enhance the community and quality of life.”
Since the cleanup phase is nearing completion, Hamilton said she’s been in talks with two interested parties in the employment and community enhancement sectors. She said she looks forward to sharing details about these partners and plans when the time comes.
The current phase of cleanup that began in September 2018 is being paid for by a $1.5 million state grant. Hamilton said this has included thousands of dollars in environmental testing, which confirmed there is no longer any hazardous waste that could have been left over from tannery operations on the property.
“All the testing has gone very well. It’s as close to being declared a greenfield as it can be, instead of a brownfield,” she said.
The PA Department of Environmental Protection defines a brownfield as an “underutilized property where the presence or potential presence of hazardous substances, pollutants or contaminants complicates expansion, redevelopment or reuse of the properties.”
The cleanup process for the property has also included removing dilapidated buildings, remediating underground piping and hauling away debris, all while attempting to preserve as much history as possible.
“The Westfield Area Historical Society – namely Betsy Hale, Dave Murdock and Bill Roosa – have been very dedicated to preserving history, saving items and sharing key info,” said Hamilton. “The tannery was a vital way of life for a lot of people for a long time.”
No matter the future plans for the property, Hamilton said the tannery’s legacy will be honored with a plaque outside featuring photos and historical information.
She said residents can own a piece of the property’s history by purchasing a tannery cart, which helps Develop Tioga in its mission as a nonprofit economic development organization. Arrangements can be made to see the carts, which are still at the property. If interested, contact Hamilton at 570-723-8232.