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More former Uniroyal buildings tagged for demolition

Date: 11/1/2013

By G. Michael Dobbs

CHICOPEE – Three more buildings at the Uniroyal complex have been funded for asbestos abetment and then demolition.

Federal, state and city officials gathered for the announcement on Oct. 28 in the shadow of one of the buildings.

“We finally say goodbye to some of the asbestos-laden buildings behind me,” Mayor Michael Bissonnette said.

The city selected Costello Dismantling of West Wareham for the demolition project through a competitive bidding process.

The abatement and demolition efforts are being funded by four Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Brownfield Clean-ups grants totaling $800,000. EPA Regional Administrator for Region I Curt Spalding officially gave the city of the fourth grant of $200,000 at the announcement.

Additional funding is coming through Community Development Block Grants and through MassDevelopment Brownfield Redevelopment funds.

When a bald eagle flew over the event, Barbara Fields, the regional administrator for Region 1 of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, said “That’s the perfect symbol of brining back the [Chicopee] river, brining back this property.”

Kerry Bowie, the director of brownfield and Environmental Justice of the state’s department of Environmental protection, said the decaying buildings are “a severe public safety hazard.”

Christopher Nolan, who is project manager for the redevelopment of the Uniroyal and Facemate properties, noted the time line for the efforts. Buildings one through six were demolished in 2009 and in April 2012, the Facemate building was removed. In April 2013 the groundbreaking for the new senior center on the Facemate site took place.

The city also recently released a Request for Letters of Interest for three parcels near the Facemate site that are ready for redevelopment.

Uniroyal shut down its tire manufacturing operations around 1980 and had 2 million square feet of factory space. The city was able to acquire the property in 2009.

City Councilor William Zaskey, who represents the ward including Chicopee Falls and is a native of the neighborhood, recalled “60, 65 years ago the area was really vibrant.” Numerous businesses were clustered around three main employers: Uniroyal, Facemate and Savage Arms.