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Waste Site Cleanup & Reuse in New England

Old Northampton Fire Station

Success in EPA-Lead Targeted Brownfields Assessments
Northampton, MA
(July 31, 2003)

New Cafe in renovated Old Fire Station in Northampton, MA

New Cafe in renovated Old Fire Station in Northampton, MA

EPA New England conducted Phase I and Phase II environmental site assessments (ESAs) on behalf of the city of Northampton, MA, through the Targeted Brownfields Assessment (TBA) program. EPA’s consultants assessed the environmental contamination at the old Northampton Fire Station on 60 Masonic Street in Northampton in 2000. The results of the ESAs showed that there was a contaminated “hot spot” on the property that needed further investigation. The city of Northampton hired a contractor to conduct a follow-up study of the "hot spot". The contractor found contaminants were below state standards and the rest of the site did not need any cleanup. In August 2001, Media Education Foundation, a nonprofit, bought the property from the city and has redeveloped the old fire station into office space for their use and retail space. Media Education Foundation moved into their office space in March 2003. The retail space was renovated into Woodstar Café, which opened on July 12, 2003.

The old Northampton Fire Station is located in an urban, downtown section of Northampton, MA. The site is approximately 13,0000-square feet in size. The city of Northampton has owned the property since the mid to late 1800s. The main building was constructed in 1872. The site was utilized as a fire station by the Northampton Fire Department from 1872 until June 1999. After ceasing operation as a fire station, the main building and the smaller storage building were utilized as storage area for some office equipment and small tools for city maintenance. The second floor of the main building was periodically utilized as an overflow shelter by the Interfaith Community Cot Shelter.

Metcalf & Eddy, the EPA contractor for this project, completed the Phase I ESA in February 2000 and the Phase II ESA in February 2001 at a cost of approximately $98,000. Results from the environmental assessments found that the property had one area of concern, or “hot spot,” in the subsurface soil that contained petroleum possibly commingled with coal, coal ash, and wood ash that needed further investigation. The Cleanup Options Study/Cost Estimate, completed in February 2001 by the EPA contractor, estimated that the cost of the cleanup of the property would be between $32,800 and $41,300.

In early 2002, the city of Northampton hired O'Reilly Talbot Okun to assess the area of concern. The contractor conducted an environmental assessment of the “hot spot” and found that the levels of contamination were below the state standards. The city paid the contractor approximately $2,000 and utilized funds from the city’s revolving loan fund, which will be repaid from the receipts from selling the property.

In summer of 2001, the city of Northampton requested bids for the Request for Proposal (RFP) for the redevelopment the property. The city sold the property to Media Education Foundation, a nonprofit, in August 2001. Media Education Foundation began to rehabilitate the two buildings (a maintenance building and the former fire station building) in summer of 2002. The nonprofit hired TCI of Amherst, MA, to conduct the redevelopment of the brownfields site in summer of 2002 and completed the work in March 2003. Part of the first floor and the entire second floor of the old fire station building was converted into office space for the nonprofit. A portion of the first floor was renovated into retail space. The other building, previously used for maintenance activities, was sold to a private individual, and the building is currently being redeveloped into a mixed residential/studio space. The redevelopment of the two buildings cost a total of $1.6 million. Media Education Foundation Click icon for EPA disclaimer. received financing of $1.2 million from Mass Development Bank and Florence Saving Bank and the nonprofit raised the rest of the funding themselves.

Media Education Foundation moved into their new office space in the old fire station in March 2003. The retail space in the old fire station, the Woodstar Café, opened on July 12, 2003. The old maintenance building’s renovation will be completed in September 2003. The nonprofit employs 14 people and the café employs about 3 to 4 people.

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