AG Healey Strikes Agreements with Three Towns to Redevelop and Clean Up Contaminated Land
Projects will redevelop contaminated sites, pave the way for new construction, create jobs, preserve open space and produce clean energy
BOSTON – Attorney General Maura Healey announced today that she has entered into three Brownfields Agreements that will pave the way for new municipal buildings in Walpole, a solar power facility in Great Barrington, and the redevelopment and reuse of a vacant parcel of property in Sutton.
The agreements, called Brownfields Covenants Not to Sue, facilitate the cleanup and redevelopment of contaminated properties, and play a key role in helping communities revitalize local economies.
“I’m thrilled that we’ve secured these three agreements that provide the liability relief necessary for projects that will bring jobs to Sutton and Walpole and clean energy to Great Barrington,” said AG Healey. “These are powerful tools that allow not only developers and prospective purchasers, but also municipalities, to clean up contaminated and abandoned sites and transform them into projects that will greatly benefit their communities.”
“Brownfields redevelopment is the union of environmental cleanup and economic development,”said Commissioner Martin Suuberg of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP). “MassDEP is proud to be a partner in this great effort to cleanup sites and put them back into productive use.”
Agreement with the Town of Walpole
The agreement reached with the Town of Walpole will allow for the redevelopment of a 26-acre parcel of property, which is located on the Blackburn and Union Superfund site. The site, which has been heavily contaminated with asbestos, lead, arsenic and nickel from manufacturing that occurred there over a 200-year period, will be redeveloped into a new senior center, police station and parking facilities to support the municipal offices.
The Town of Walpole will endeavor to incorporate sustainable design features, including solar panels, rain water harvesting, and the use of materials produced locally into the new municipal buildings. The project will also include redeveloping an abandoned rail bed on the property into a walking trail that will link the site to the High School and Town Forest, which ultimately will enhance the open space available for public use. In addition to these public benefits, this project will create new jobs in Walpole.
The agreement is the first that the Attorney General’s Office has issued in connection with a federal Superfund site.
“I am pleased that the Town of Walpole finally got the result we have been advocating over the last several years,” Walpole Town Administrator Jim Johnson said. “This is an important project for the Town because it will lead to the relocation of the Police Station in the near future.”
Agreement with Rising Paper, LLC for a project in Great Barrington
With its covenant in place, Rising Paper Land, LLC took ownership of a 67-acre property that was the site of a paper mill from 1852 until 2007, where it will develop a 12-acre, 2.5-megawatt solar photovoltaic facility. Rising Paper has agreed to place a 45-acre conservation restriction with public access on the property, which will preserve open space along the Housatonic River for the community. In exchange for the commitment to undertake this project, the Covenant provides Rising Paper with liability protection for natural resource damages.
“I am thrilled that this project is not only supplying millions of kilowatt-hours of clean energy to the Berkshire Hills Regional School District and the Town of Great Barrington, but is also providing a net economic benefit of over $200,000 in just the first year,” said Kirt Mayland, manager of Rising Paper Land, LLC. “The addition of over 45-acres of land being placed in permanent conservation and the creation of public access opportunities makes this an ideal re-use of the Brownfield."
“This is a real favorite project for the Town, what was a contaminated property with no viable use, will now provide multiple environmental, financial, land use, recreational and educational benefits to our community,” Great Barrington Town Manager Jennifer Tabakin said.
The new solar facility will produce enough clean energy to power the electrical needs of a local school district and the Town of Great Barrington’s municipal buildings. The project also allows for the preservation of wetlands and riverfront buffers on the site.
Agreement with New Covenant Partners IV, LLC for a project in Sutton
The Not to Sue Agreement with New Covenant Partners IV, LLC paved the way for it to take ownership of a vacant building and the two-acre parcel of property that is the former site of Master Metals Industries, a small-scale pewter and solder smelting facility in Sutton. During Master Metals’ ownership, from 1971 through 2012, there were releases of lead, arsenic, chromium, cadmium, zinc and other hazardous materials into the soil and groundwater on the site.
“This is a win-win for the town,” said James Smith, Sutton’s Town Administrator. “With the states assistance, particularly the AG’s Office, New Covenant Partners IV, LLC will be able to pay the town of Sutton over $20,000 in back taxes, take the property out of tax title, create jobs and put the property back on the tax roles.”
Under the agreement, New Covenant will clean up the property and tear down a portion of the existing vacant building on the site, make improvements to the remaining part of the building, and pave over a section of the property. New Covenant will enter into a long-term lease with a company that sells, distributes, and installs consultation services for products and services for the protection of outdoor athletic fields. The new project will create six new jobs at the currently vacant site.
The AG’s Office is dedicated to facilitating the cleanup and redevelopment of contaminated and underutilized properties throughout the Commonwealth. A Brownfields Covenant Not to Sue Agreement is broadly available to municipalities and developers who are owners or prospective purchasers of contaminated properties and provides liability relief and protections for projects contributing to the economic or physical revitalization of the community. The proposed project must create new jobs or affordable housing, or result in historic preservation, open space, or some other form of public benefit. Additionally, the property must meet cleanup standards under G.L. c. 21E and the Massachusetts Contingency Plan, and the Attorney General works with MassDEP to ensure that cleanup plans are adequate. The Attorney General’s Office encourages anyone interested in purchasing and developing and reusing a contaminated piece of property to contact the Office to discuss the possibility of a Brownfields Covenant Not to Sue.
Brownfields Covenants are developed through close coordination between the Attorney General's Office and MassDEP. Assistant Attorney General Betsy Harper of AG Healey’s Environmental Protection Division handled negotiations for the Agreements, in coordination with MassDEP’s MassDEP’s John Beeling and Lucas Rogers of the Office of General Counsel, Eva Tor, Gerard Martin, Mary Gardner, Mark Baldi, Kerry Bowie, Bob Campbell and Jay Naparstek.