Consent order on TechCity cleanup hailed as key to revitalizing ex-IBM site

Could this be the final piece of the puzzle that allows TechCity to become the economic all-father to the county that the site was when it was IBM-Kingston?

“This” — announced and celebrated last week by virtually the entire top shelf of the county’s political class in the lobby of TechCity’s administrative building — is in essence a bureaucratic adjustment, a consent order issued by the state Department of Conservation. The decree will allow TechCity owner Alan Ginsburg to break the 258-acre site into 10 parcels, so each parcel can undergo its own environmental review and cleanup process, freeing the less-contaminated ones to be redeveloped more quickly. This, TechCity and elected officials say, will speed up the process of turning the complex, Ulster County’s most concentrated industrial infrastructure, into a mixed-use “eco-village,” replete with job-creating businesses, educational facilities, retail space and worker housing.

TechCity owner Alan Ginsberg. (Photo by Dan Barton)

Last Thursday’s announcement of the consent order was attended by numerous officials — DEC Commissioner Joe Martens, TechCity owner Alan Ginsberg, U.S. Rep. Maurice Hinchey, state Sen. John Bonacic, state Assemblyman Kevin Cahill, Ulster Town Supervisor Jim Quigley and Scenic Hudson President Ned Sullivan. The only one missing from the all-star lineup was County Executive Mike Hein, who had a prior commitment.


While IBM ran quite the gravy train when it was employing thousands in its factory and research facility, it left behind a great deal of waste in its almost 40 years in the Town of Ulster — a 45-acre plume of groundwater contamination including the toxins trichloroethylene (TCE), perchloroethylene (PERC) and vinyl chloride. Since the mid-’70s, efforts have been ongoing to contain and clean up the mess, the costs for which IBM remains on the hook. But at the plan’s current rate, it would take, state DEC officials said, some 350 years for the site to be completely cleaned up. (That’s past, actually, the time frame in which Star Trek is set.)