By LINDSAY CAREY
The Ideal Forging buildings will be coming down within the next few months, a project which has been in the works since 2007 when Meridian Development Partners acquired the property.
The developer, project director, environmental consultant, engineer, and demolition contractors revealed their plans to the public at an informational meeting at the Municipal Center on Thursday, Feb. 26.
The demolition is beginning after seemingly being at a standstill for years. Project Director Valarie Ferro said that this was due to the economic climate.
Developer Howard Schlesinger from Meridian Development Partners did not publicly speak at the meeting despite the questions that came up regarding what the property will become after the buildings are demolished.
“He’s actively engaging in a number of other development scenarios,” said Ferro of Howard. Ferro said that he is working on a solution and is under some non-disclosure agreements.
“Many people have had interest in the property, but they really didn’t want to fully engage in a development plan, Howard has tried to hang on to this and do what’s right for the town,” said Ferro, who led the meeting. “There has been genuine interest in the site, but they keep telling Howard, ‘When you get the buildings down, call me.’”
Ferro explained that eight buildings between three plots of land, 66 High Street, 167 Center Street, and 217 Center Street, will be abated for lead and asbestos and subsequently demolished.
The abatement process was scheduled to begin Monday, March 2 and demolition will begin Monday, March 16. If all goes as planned, the project is expected to be completely finished on July 15. Work will be in progress Monday through Friday between the hours of 7 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.
Cleaning up the Ideal Forging site has been an ongoing process over the years. The presentation revealed that “abandoned, universal hazardous wastes” were already removed in 2013 and a hazardous building survey has been completed.
The environmental consultant and Licensed Environmental Professional (LEP) George Gurney and the engineer Melissa Bezanson explained at the meeting how removal of asbestos from the building will be handled moving forward.
“We’re looking to make sure everything is done safely and when it comes to remediation make sure that the public is protected from anything that is exposed,” said Gurney, who will oversee and sign off on the cleanup of the sites. “The action plan and our overall plan hasn’t changed. Our goal is remove the buildings, excavate the hotspots of contaminated soil and the low levels of contaminated material will be encapsulated so the public is protected.”
Gurney explained that the goal is to meet Connecticut DEEP residential standards. A Remedial Action Plan (RAP) has been submitted to CT DEEP under the voluntary cleanup program and the project is taking a “remedial approach” in order to comply with the CT Residential Remediation Standard Regulations (CT RSRs). After the cleanup is completed, reports will be submitted to confirm that the properties are safe for residential use.
An asbestos removal notification for the CT Department of Health is in already in progress. Throughout the removal process, asbestos will be contained by keeping the work areas sealed off and placing the areas under negative pressure.
To be safe, Benzanson explained that they are going above and beyond required regulations to ensure the asbestos abatement is safe. Although it is not required by the state, asbestos abatement inspections are going to be conducted and the air quality in the area will be monitored.
Benzanson did confirm that residents may notice a strange odor when the fuel oil is removed from the site through a vacuum. In an effort to minimize the impact on residents, this part of the process will be conducted “as expeditiously as possible.”
A similar approach will be taken when the demolition phase begins, the materials are going to be sorted and removed from the site.
The process of loading materials into trucks and hauling them out is being strategically scheduled so that it will minimize the impact on traffic.
“Trucking won’t be non-stop at a site job, where you’re constantly cutting material from the project and loading it out and bringing it in,” said Demolition Contractor from Standard Demolition Services Mike Huen. “It’s going to be much more minimized. Trucking overall will probably be 30 percent of the job over the whole duration, so it’s not going to be like a site job where’s there’s constant trucking.”
Factory Square and High Street is going to be closed from March 16 to May 11, which will affect the traffic coming into the YMCA.
The Center Street sidewalk in front of 216 Center Street is going to be closed between April 15 and June 22. According to the plans, traffic on Center Street may be reduced to one lane during the demolition of the front portion of the buildings for about a week.
The project director said that they have been working with the Southington Police Department to come up with a plan for the trucks to navigate through town.
“We’ve met them on site and they’ve been very co-operative,” said Huen.
The plans and specific for the demolition were finalized and a contractor was selected in Oct. 2014. Draft demolition permits will need to be submitted to the town before each building is demolished and will begin with 66 High Street.
The project will begin with abatement of 167 Center Street and the abatement and demolition of 66 High Street will occur simultaneously. The demolition of 167 Center Street will follow.
The last part of the project will be to abate and then demolish the buildings at 217 Center Street.
The foundation slabs of the buildings will also be removed as a part of the demolition process and the soil excavation will also be going on during the demolition in the area between 66 High Street and 167 Center Street.
Photos by JOHN GORALSKI