Beacon Falls receives brownfield grant

Beacon Falls received a $78,000 state grant to perform an environmental assessment of the property at 100 Railroad Ave. pictured above. –LUKE MARSHALL
Beacon Falls received a $78,000 state grant to perform an environmental assessment of the property at 100 Railroad Ave. pictured above. –LUKE MARSHALL

BEACON FALLS — A state grant may help pave the way for a small expansion of the Murtha Industrial Park.

The town received a $78,000 grant last week from the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development’s Brownfield Remediation Program for an environmental assessment of a brownfield at 100 Railroad Ave.

First Selectman Christopher Bielik said the grant will cover the cost of soil and water tests on the property, as well as tests on the building, to see exactly what, if any, contaminants are there.

Harold Murtha, owner of the Murtha Industrial Park, in considering purchasing the 0.54 acre property for the new site of the industrial park’s front office building, Bielik said.

“They would love to build that at 100 Railroad Avenue. The only problem is they don’t know the conditions there. It’s adjacent to the railroad tracks, so however much bled over from the trains going by for years. There is probably some contamination there in that area,” Bielik said. “The Murthas obviously don’t want to buy a pig in a poke. If they will have to spend millions in cleanup, they don’t want that.”

Murtha could not be reached for a comment.

According to land records, the property is owned by Carolyn Watkins of the Beacon Reel Company. There is a 9,783-square-foot vacant building on the property. The total assessment of the property and building is $184,520.

Bielik said activities, such as vehicle maintenance, took place on the land over the years. So there may be unknown contaminants on the property.

“Right now it is all a big mystery. We don’t know what the extent of it is. It could be nothing. We could be worried about something that doesn’t even really exist or is maybe very minimal, which would be the best case,” Bielik said.

The grant, which was announced by Gov. Dannel Malloy on Feb. 10, was part of $8.7 million that the state put towards assessment and remediation of brownfields.

“In a new economic reality, transforming and remediating sites is so important. We’re on the cutting edge of taking otherwise unusable property and transforming it into new space for businesses and residents. These strategic investments help towns and cities take abandoned, blighted, and vacant properties, and bring them back to life in order to spur new investments, new development, and new jobs for those in the communities,” Malloy said in a press release.

Under the grant five municipalities received a total of $7 million for brownfield remediation and 12 municipalities received a total of $1.7 million for brownfield assessment.

Bielik said the town worked with the Naugatuck Valley Council of Governments to help secure this grant.

The grant has the potential to benefit the industrial park, which is among the top ten tax revenue generators in Beacon Falls, and the town, Bielik said.

“This has a real long-term potential benefit for the town. The Murthas have been in this town a long time. Their setup over there is a wonderful setup. They’ve got a lot of good tenants over there. This will give them something that will create a few more jobs. They will staff out a few more additional personnel there because they will have the room,” Bielik said.

If the site proves to be contaminated, Bielik said the town would see what grants are available to do the remediation. However, for now he is pleased with this grant as a first step.

“This is a success story. No doubt about it,” Bielik said.