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Games & Lanes site clean up planned

Date: 5/1/2012

May 2, 2012

By Debbie Gardner

AGAWAM — The long-abandoned Quonset hut on Walnut Street extension has come into the limelight again as the town seeks to assist with ongoing hazardous clean up efforts at the site.

Deborah Dachos, director of Planning and Community Development told Reminder Publications that the town advertised a Request For Proposal (RFP) regarding the property on April 25.

"We're looking for a Licensed Site Professional (LSP) to do an assessment of the Games & Lanes site located at 346-350 Walnut St. Extension," she said.

Dachos said though numerous soil, groundwater and internal air quality studies — and related clean up efforts — have taken place over the years at the site, which in the 1960s housed Standard Uniform Service and beginning in 1997, the Games & Lanes recreational facility until a fire shut that facility down in 2004, "there's no final concrete determination as to how much more clean up has to be done on the property" before it can be safely redeveloped.

The hazardous waste designation for the site comes from soil and groundwater pollution, and indoor air pollution, associated with the building's use as a dry cleaning facility from the 1960s through 1998, when Standard Uniform moved to a new facility.

Dachos said the site's owner, Manfore Tidor, has already invested $1 million trying to clean up the site.

"People don't understand that there has been a significant effort to clean up this property to date," Dachos said. "[Tidor] has exhausted all the resources he has is in arrears on the property currently."

She added that the town has been reluctant to take the property for back taxes so far because it would then become solely responsible for the cost of the clean up.

She said there is a private developer who has expressed a potential interest in the property. That developer contracted with S. W. Cole Inc. of Swanzey, N.H., to perform an initial hazardous waste assessment of the property, which was submitted to the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) in February. Last month, MassDEP returned findings indicating, "Further response actions are needed to address concerns highlighted by [the submitted] data."

Dachos said that once selected by the town, "the LSP would be responsible for a review of the existing data contained at the MassDEP." That individual would also be responsible for an additional assessment of the site to provide any gaps in the information, creating reports outlining a remedial action plan for the site and a cost estimate for implementing that plan.

She said the town intends to use the LSP's data to apply for a state grant designed to assist cities and towns with hazardous waste site — or brownfield — cleanup activities such as those necessary at the Games & Lanes property.

"We have met with Mass Development, which offers to proved brownfield assessment grants to municipalities up to $100,000," Dachos said, adding that the reports generated by the LSP would be used to try and "obtain one of those grants."

She said the town has two "motivating factors" behind this grant application.

The first is that, with the additional funding the town can provide information on "the extent of the contamination and [what] it will cost [the developer] to clean it up." Should the developer choose not to follow through with his plans, Dachos said that because the original owner is behind in the taxes on the property, the town can take the property and, once it owns the site, "apply for EPA funds for cleanup."

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