February 9

Wilton officials aim to clean up site of former tannery for resale by summer

The EPA, DEP and town’s consulting firm intend to prepare the site for redevelopment.

By Kaitlin Schroeder kschroeder@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

Wilton officials hope to wrap up the effort to clean up the contaminated site of the former U.S. Route 2 tannery by June with the help of a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency grant.

A $200,000 EPA grant will cover a majority of the cost to remove the chemicals, deer hide scraps and hazardous debris left inside and around the tannery building near the intersection of Tannery Road and U.S. Route 2.

The project is one of several the town has undertaken in recent years to clean up unsightly properties, remove contamination and improve property values.

Town officials are also involved in a civil court case to get the former Forster Mill building removed and the site cleaned, and they are seeking a court order for $9,500 in fines from a downtown homeowner who refuses to remove piles of appliances, car parts and construction material from his front yard.

Ransom Consulting group will take about a month to design a plan to clean the site, according to Nicholas Sabatine, vice president and senior geologist with the group. The project will need approval from the EPA and the town. Sabatine said he hopes the contract for the project will be awarded in April and the project will be underway by May. The work is expected to last four to six weeks.

“Our piece is to limit the potential for the end users to come in contact with the contamination,” he said.

The grant is from the EPA Brownfields program, which provides money for de-contaminating sites nationwide so they can be reused.

The value of residential property near such sites can increase 5.1 to 12.8 percent after the cleanup is completed, according to the EPA website.

Town officials also hope to resell the former tannery site and collect taxes on the property again.

Town Manager Rhonda Irish said the town is taking comments on the matter until Friday. All information about the project is available for viewing 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday at the Wilton Town Office.

The consulting firm contracted to clean up the site is still developing the plan, but so far it intends to consolidate and bury the contaminants on the site under a safe layer of soil, Sabatine said.

He said the spot where the material would be buried would be off-limits to excavation, but a future developer would have other options for the section of the land, such as building a parking lot.

The EPA is overseeing the project and has approved the consultants researching the plan.

“It’s been deemed that the contaminants aren’t leaking and they can be managed in place,” Sabatine said.

Sabatine said if the material could be buried on the site, it would save money and avoid taking up space at the landfill.

“It takes logistics and the cost into account and still renders the site usable,” he said.

Kaitlin Schroeder — 861-9252 kschroeder@centralmaine.com
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