By JEN CARDINES
Not even 30 days after the Town Council unanimously awarded ARCADIS consulting agency with a contract, a team of testers were on site at the former Beaton & Corbin property.
Last week, environmental specialists from ARCADIS conducted a second-phase site evaluation to determine the level of contamination on the property directly adjacent to the Southington Fire Department headquarters on N. Main Street.
The former plumbing manufacturing plant was abandoned in 1989, but a fire struck the abandoned property on Sept. 22, 2003, and flames destroyed most of the building. The fire exposed asbestos insulation from the boiler room on the former industrial site.
Prior to the town’s partnership with Connecticut Brownfield Land Bank (CTBLB) non-profit organization, the property has stood, abandoned and contaminated, for nearly 30 years.
“This is exactly what a Brownfield site is,” said Russell Dirienzo, a principal geologist for ARCADIS. Dirienzo served as the licensed environmental specialist on-site for the testing. “If you look up the definition of ‘Brownfield’ in the dictionary, it would direct you to this property.”
While ARCADIS is a global company, the team covering the Beaton & Corbin project works from a small office in Sandy Hook. Direnzo said that his office works primarily in the region.
“We like local work and being part of the community,” said Dirienzo. “These kinds of projects are what make it worth it.”
In an effort to revitalize the abandoned, contaminated property, Southington officials engaged the CTBLB to manage the project. With their help, the town was awarded $400,000 to demolish and remediate the site for redevelopment as commercial office space.
Southington was one of just 16 Connecticut municipalities to receive this grant under the Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) Brownfield Remediation Program last year.
Before the developer can transform the site, proper testing is required to ensure the safety of Southington residents and inhabitants of the new building. ARCADIS crew workers spent the better part of last Friday examining the soil and testing the property.
“We don’t know how bad the pollution is,” Dirienzo said while onsite Friday. Through their efforts, they will be able to identify the amount so that it can be handled properly.
In their search, ARCADIS found a gas tank underground, but Dirienzo said it “seems to be okay.” He said they were glad they found it now, and not when construction was about to break ground.
If looked at closely, passers by can see the skeleton of the building through the overgrown trees and brush. Once the contamination levels are reported and officials know what they are up against, the parcel can be leveled and transformed into a useful, tax-yielding property.
“We’re hoping that in a year from now, we can come back and take pictures of a nice office building,” Dirienzo said.
To comment on this story r to contact staff writer Jen Cardines, email her at JCardines@SouthingtonObserver.com.