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    Monday, July 22, 2024

    Norwich, New London receive state blight cleanup grants

    Aerial view of the Capehart Mill complex in Norwich, Friday, Jan. 19, 2024. (Peter Huoppi/The Day file photo)
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    For the past 46 years, Peter and Nancy Procko have had a front row seat to watch the former Capehart Mill in Greeneville slowly decay, be set ablaze in arson fires and become a shelter for desperate homeless people.

    On Friday, the couple cheered along with city leaders who have tried repeatedly to secure state grant money to clean up the partially collapsed and likely contaminated former Capehart Mill.

    Gov. Ned Lamont announced Friday that Norwich will receive a $4 million state grant for remediation and demolition of a portion of the former mill that runs along the Shetucket River from about Fourth Street to Eighth Street. New London will receive $200,000 to assess six properties on Bank and Meridian streets to plan how to use a $1 million federal cleanup grant for the properties.

    The $4 million Norwich grant will tackle two buildings at the southern end of the complex. The city plans to apply for an additional $17 million grant through the state Community Investment Fund to clean up and demolish the largest, partially collapsed Capehart building.

    “That’s awesome! Oh, that’s super!” Peter Procko, owner of Procko Electric on Fifth Street said Friday. “My shop is right next door to there, and I’ve seen the deterioration since 1978.”

    Procko is chairman of the Greeneville Neighborhood Revitalization Zone Committee, and his wife, Nancy, is vice chairwoman.

    The Norwich City Council voted in January to acquire the mill complex from the defunct ownership group, Foot of Fifth Inc. to pursue plans to create a riverfront park. Mayor Peter Nystrom said Friday the group’s representatives have agreed to contribute $800,000 to the city to assist with the cleanup.

    Nystrom and Norwich Community Development Corp. President Kevin Brown credited the city’s perseverance in repeatedly submitting grant requests to the state for the Capehart project. The city Planning and Neighborhood Services and Public Works departments, with assistance by NCDC, which will manage the grant, submitted the latest request.

    Director of Planning and Neighborhood Services Deanna Rhodes said the city first received a small $62,000 grant to assess Capehart in spring. With that, she invited officials from the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to visit the property.

    “It had an impact, looking at it,” Public Works Director Patrick McLaughlin said of the state officials’ visit.

    The Norwich grant was among 22 brownfields remediation grants from the state Department of Economic and Community Development announced by Gov. Lamont Friday. The grants total $26.3 million.

    New London will use its $200,000 grant to fund a clean-up strategy focused on six parcels on Bank and Meridian streets. That Phase I environmental assessment will allow the city to leverage a $1 million federal EPA grant to conduct remediation work at the properties.

    c.bessette@theday.com

    Staff Writer John Penney contributed to this report.

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