Kodak's bankruptcy filing generated a lot of questions, and some legitimate worries about the future of the Eastman Business Park on West Ridge Road. But some answers are starting to emerge, leaving state and local government and elected officials, as well as business park tenants, more confident in the facility's future.
PHOTO BY JEREMY MOULE
Eastman Business Park on West Ridge Road, formerly known as Kodak Park, is in a period of transition.
Some of those answers have come via a recent agreement between the state and Kodak. This morning, a panel of officials gave an update on the park and the agreement at, appropriately enough, Eastman Business Park.
Under the agreement, which was originally announced on June 19, Kodak pledges to keep its core operations at the park. At today's event, Brad Kruchten, a Kodak senior vice president, said that the company has already consolidated some operations at the park, including moving some manufacturing work back from Mexico.
But several of the speakers highlighted another aspect of the agreement, which they say is critical to attracting future investment to the park. Kodak has agreed to pay $49 million into an environmental trust fund, which officials expect will cover the cost of long-term environmental monitoring and clean-up efforts at the park and in the Genesee River. In exchange, current and future occupants of the park will not be liable for any legacy pollution. The state Department of Environmental Conservation has formally agreed not to sue any of the park businesses over pollution generated in the past by Kodak.
Lieutenant Governor Bob Duffy told today's audience that Kodak has worked with the state Department of Environmental Conservation and the federal Environmental Protection Agency on environmental contamination issues at the park. He said he believes that the amount of funding is adequate.
"I don't think that there's any surprises in the park," said Duffy.
Rochester Mayor Tom Richards said the trust fund is important from a community perspective, too. The environmental problems at the park have been identified, he said, but they require long-term solutions. Now, no matter what happens to Kodak, there's funding to continue monitoring and cleanup work, he said.
The speakers also stressed the importance of Recycled Energy Development's purchase of the park's utilities from Kodak. I wrote about some recent developments with that deal earlier this morning, and that post is available here
As for future park tenants and investment, Greater Rochester Enterprise President and CEO Mark Peterson said that some projects have "been in the queue" that can now move forward. And Duffy said that the many of the panel's members have had conversations with various CEO's who are interested in coming to the park.
"This is where the jobs of the future will be," said Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks. (As an interesting side note, the county's Pure Waters division has taken control of thousands of feet of pipe, as well as a waste water pump station at the park. And in July it'll take control of another 15,000 feet of pipe at the park, Brooks said.)