State to pay $75,000 to St. Lawrence County for demolition and abatement at former Jones and Laughlin Steel in Star Lake
Tuesday, August 15, 2017 - 9:04 am

STAR LAKE -- The state will pay $75,000 to St. Lawrence County for demolition and abatement at the former Jones and Laughlin Steel site.

The money is a share of $1.35 million in Smart Growth grants being awarded to municipalities and non-profits that applied.

“Smart Growth grants aim to help identify locally-led priorities for community development, leverage surrounding natural areas for public enjoyment, and collaborate on initiatives throughout the Catskill and Adirondack Parks,” according to a news release from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office.

The county acquired the J&L property in 2013 under a “liability release” agreement, which frees it from liability for environmental contamination there. The vast property, which held 11 buildings as part of the company’s iron ore mining and processing operation, contains areas listed as state Superfund sites.

The county began tearing down buildings there last fall with an eye towards redevelopment.

At its height, the Jones and Laughlin Steel Corporation fed steel plants in Pennsylvania and Ohio an average of 1 million tons of iron ore sinter from the mine, known as Benson Mines, before being sold. The ore was shipped down the Adirondack rail line of the New York Central from Clifton, through Harrisville, to Carthage and down to Watertown.

The mine supported nearly 2,000 people in the region, and when it finally closed in the summer of 1978, 365 people lost their jobs. An auction in 1980 saw all of the equipment and materials at the site sold off, leaving empty vacant buildings which fell into a state of serious disrepair.