Beacon Falls back to square one with Wolfe Avenue house

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By Andreas Yilma, Staff Writer

The town-owned house at 35 Wolfe Ave. in Beacon Falls. –ANDREAS YILMA

BEACON FALLS — Officials are back to square one with how to move forward with a town-owned house on Wolfe Avenue.

The Board of Selectmen decided earlier this year to let Beacon Hose Co. No. 1 conduct a live burn training at the house at 35 Wolfe Ave. — the former home of Beacon Falls Rubber Shoe Co. President Tracy Lewis.

The town received five bids for selective demolition, remediation and debris removal work to augment the live burn. The bids, which ranged from $82,300 to $192,000, came in higher than the $80,000 officials earmarked for taking down the home. The town has already spent $15,000 of the $80,000 for an environmental assessment of the house and a detached carriage house on the property.

First Selectman Gerard Smith said he threw out all of the bids.

“We didn’t have adequate funding for the burn and removal of the debris,” Smith said.

“We’re back on the drawing board. Any and all options are on the table.”

Officials have floated the idea of selling the 1.5-acre property, though what the next step will be remains to be seen.

Smith said there’s no time frame for a decision on which route to take for the house.

Voters approved buying the property and house in 2008 for $425,000. At the time, officials planned to build a community center and library on the property. However, those plans didn’t move forward and the house has fallen into disrepair. Some windows and doors of the home are boarded up.

Over the years, Beacon Hose has used the home for training. The property also hosts the town’s community garden.

Eagle Environmental, an industrial hygiene firm that conducted the environmental assessment of the home and detached carriage house, found lead paint in both buildings. Only the carriage house had lead paint levels the company said would be considered hazardous lead waste if demolished, according to an analysis submitted to the town in January. The firm also found some areas with asbestos in the house.