Remediation plans considered for former construction site

SHERIDAN ROY

STAFF WRITER

The White Oak parcel of land next to the municipal center in downtown Plainville has been a subject of conversation as plans for remediation continue. Town staff acknowledge the potential of the parcel and hope that it can be a vital piece of property in the coming years, but right now, there is much work to be done there.

“The White Oak property is a key downtown property,” said interim town planner Garret Daigle at the recent state of the town meeting, “and the town is hopeful that when the site assessment is finished and remediation is complete, the site will see renewal to developmental interest to attract people to Plainville’s downtown.”

The property was the former home of White Oak Construction, which closed down about 16 years ago. Due to its past use as a construction company site, town officials had concern that the property might be contaminated or may have some type of hazardous material.

The parcel of land is owned by the estate of Roger Toffolon and managed by estate executor Marcia Toffolon, who agreed to an access and option agreement with the town. It allows the town permission to access the property, and offers the option to purchase it.

Director of technical service John Bossi said although the land has great potential, “there is a sizeable amount of money [the property owners] are behind on.”

“It’s a privately owned piece of property, and the town is currently working to assess some of the environmental issues to get a plan together and find out the cost of cleanup,” said Bossi. “The complication is the owner hasn’t paid many of their taxes, so the town’s got to make a decision at some point whether they’re going to take that property and be the owner and market it from that standpoint. There are a lot of outstanding dollar figures that the town may inherit by either taking the property or purchasing it outright.”

The project was something former director of planning and economic development Mark DeVoe kept a close eye on for years before he moved last month.

“There was an old environmental study done on it back in 2006 that indicated there was likely contamination, but the study was outdated,” he said in December. “I applied to the department of economic and community development and got a grant to perform an environmental assessment on the property.”

The town hired environmental professional firm Louriero Engineering Association to form three phases of environmental site assessments with the grant money the town received. Phase one is complete, and two and three are in the works. Once all three are complete, they will compile a remedial action plan (RAP) to estimate the approximate cost to remediate the property. They are also performing a hazardous building material survey on the site to determine if there is asbestos and PCB on the site. If that’s the case, DeVoe said, “It might not be cost effective to try to save it, and that’s a shame.”

DeVoe added the town also would consider applying for liability relief, so if the town takes over the property, they will be absolved of any environmental wrongdoings that may have occurred on the site. He also said there may be an option of disposition for the back taxes on the property.

In the best possible scenario, remediation will take place and the town will take ownership of the property, making way for mixed-use development including housing and retail.

To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Sheridan Roy, email her at SRoy@SouthingtonObserver.com.