Norwich seeks properties for environmental assessements

Norwich — With a $384,000 environmental assessment grant in hand, the city Redevelopment Agency is seeking input from residents, business owners and most importantly, the owners of potentially contaminated properties, interested in having studies done that could clear the way for future development.

The Redevelopment Agency will hold a public forum at 6 p.m. Monday to discuss the brownfields assessment project and hear public input to help determine which properties should be prioritized for environmental assessment. Factors such as public health, community need, redevelopment potential and owner interest will be considered.

The Environmental Protection Agency grant includes $185,000 to study sites with potential petroleum contamination and $199,000 to study sites with potentially hazardous substances.

City Planner Deanna Rhodes said the Redevelopment Agency has approved the historic Uncas Leap area as one priority for the grant. The city has obtained various grants to develop a heritage park at the site that incudes proposed walking trails, interpretive signs, a possible amphitheater and kayak tie-off spots in the Yantic River at the base of the cliff.

The city has demolished a small industrial building, which had an underground fuel storage tank, on the Uncas Leap site. Part of the petroleum study grant will be used for the site, Rhodes said.

No other properties have been approved for study yet, Rhodes said. The Redevelopment Agency has been working with environmental consultant Tighe & Bond to identify possible sites. A list of potential study sites will be presented during Monday’s meeting.

A “brownfield” is an abandoned, vacant, or underutilized property where redevelopment or reuse may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of contamination. The grant money can cover initial assessment and creation of a remediation plan at no cost to the property owner, Rhodes said. City officials then would assist property owners in obtaining cleanup grants.

“There’s no cost for the brownfields assessment for the property owner,” Rhodes said, “but the city wants to use the money as efficiently as possible and wants to work with property owners who have plans and goals to move forward with development of their sites.”

The grant money could entice apprehensive property owners to move forward, she said.

“It’s really an exciting program, because so many property owners have brownfields, and they don’t know where to start,” Rhodes said. “And the city has the funding to help them with that.”

c.bessette@theday.com

If you go

Norwich Redevelopment Agency

Monday, April 23, 6 p.m., Norwich City Hall, 100 Broadway, Norwich.

Discussion of $384,000 federal environmental assessment grant. Redevelopment Agency seeks input from property owners, residents, business owners to identify properties to be studied for possible contamination.

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