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Waste Site Cleanup & Reuse in New England

6 Acre Abandoned Lumber Yard Now Stands Ready for Future Expansion of Local Business Following EPA Environmental Assessment

Success in EPA Brownfields Assessment Grant Program
Chicopee, MA
(December 3, 2003)

Following almost 75 years of use as a lumberyard, the site of the Former J.G. Roy Lumber Company, is on the brink of a redevelopment that will bring needed and very visible economic and environmental improvements to this low-income Chicopee neighborhood. The property stands ready for redevelopment following a site assessment paid for with a portion of a US Environmental Protection Agency Brownfields Assessment grant that was awarded to the city in 1996.

The 5.67 acre property, located at 837 Meadow Street, houses the eleven buildings that were once utilized by the former J.G. Roy Lumber Company. J.G. Roy occupied the property from 1924 to 1979 and specialized in the production, chemical treatment, storage, and sales of lumber. Carbon tetrachlorides and various other chemicals were utilized to treat the wood. Lumber was then allowed to drip dry onto the bare ground surrounding the property. In 1979 the property was purchased by the Hallahan Lumber Company. In 1998 the company failed to pay property taxes and the city of Chicopee acquired the potentially contaminated property through the tax foreclosure process soon after.

The city of Chicopee hired Tighe & Bond, an independent environmental contractor, to conduct a environmental site assessment on the property to determine the level and type of environmental contamination present at the site. The assessment cost $41,600 and was fully funded with monies from the Brownfields Assessment grant from the EPA. Tighe & Bond completed Phase I of the assessment in April 1997. Subsurface testing performed during the assessment revealed low levels of tetrachlorides and arsenic in the soil that did not require remediation. Three underground storage tanks were found at the site that contained fuel oils and gasoline and three above ground storage tanks were also discovered that contained propane and other liquids. By October 1999, Tighe & Bond completed a response action outcome statement, in accordance with state requirements, that disclosed that the property posed no significant risk to the environment or the surrounding community. The large property was then ready for sale to a private company.

In November 2001 the city issued a request for proposals to find a buyer and developer for the property. The property was offered to the adjoining property owner, J. Polep Distribution Services, and was sold to the company in 2002. J. Polep Distribution Services has completed the remaining remediation needed on the property and has cleared the existing buildings from the property for future expansion of its warehouse and distribution business. Community Development Block Grant funds were loaned to J. Polep for remediation and demolition work.

The redevelopment of the property will increase the city’s tax base and create new jobs. The extension of J. Polep Distribution Services will also remove blighted buildings and replace them with an industrial and commercial entity that is highly visible from the busy Interstate 391.

The population of Chicopee, MA is 55,000 people. The unemployment rate in Chicopee was 3% in 2000 according in the U.S. Census with 22% of workers in manufacturing or factory jobs. The median household income is $35,700 with 9.6% of the population living below the poverty level in 2000.

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