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College of Saint Rose in Albany makes closure official

More Buildings To Be Razed At Former Uniroyal Factory

City of Chicopee

A significant milestone is expected this year in a nearly decade-long massive project to clean up two former industrial sites in western Massachusetts.

Since 2010, the city of Chicopee has received $2.4 million in grants from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Brownfields program to clean up the former Uniroyal tire factory and Facemate textile mill that combined had almost two dozen large brick buildings on roughly 72 acres along the Chicopee River.

"Getting these grants each year allowed us to get more and more property cleared and ready for reuse," said  Mayor Richard Kos ,who recently won approval from the Chicopee City Council to spend $2.8 million, along with about $590,000 from the EPA, to demolish five buildings at the former Uniroyal site.

Once that work is finished, only five buildings will remain, according to Lee Pouliot, the city’s Director of Planning.

"We are really excited to see it move forward and it is going to be a big change at the Uniroyal property, " said Pouliot.

The city expects to solicit bids for the demolition work later this month and it is expected to take 8-9 months to tear down the four buildings.

"There will be one additional building ( Building 15) that we need to demolish and that will leave four buildings standing," said Pouliot.

When all the demolition and cleanup work is finished, Pouliot said the city plans to market the remaining buildings for private redevelopment.

"With the structural integrity of the buildings that are left and the work we are doing to abate them we should be in a pretty good place to market them competitively and see some really good proposals come in," said Pouliot.

Chicopee has had good success in redeveloping the former Facemate site.  The RiverMills Senior Center was built on part of the property. It opened in 2014.

Developer David Spada has struck a deal with the city to buy a 4-acre parcel adjacent to the senior center where he plans to build a 92-unit assisted-living apartment building.

In announcing the $23 million project last summer, he said it would not be economically feasible had taxpayer dollars not been spent first to clean up the contaminated site and make it ready for development.

"The  spark needs to be lit, if you have any intention of cleaning up these left behind, abandoned sites. New England is replete with them  and there is no reason to go out and clear cut trees and disturb open land when you have very possible sites to be redeveloped," said Spada.

Pouliot said a groundbreaking for the assisted-living center is expected this spring.

Paul Tuthill is WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief. He’s been covering news, everything from politics and government corruption to natural disasters and the arts, in western Massachusetts since 2007. Before joining WAMC, Paul was a reporter and anchor at WRKO in Boston. He was news director for more than a decade at WTAG in Worcester. Paul has won more than two dozen Associated Press Broadcast Awards. He won an Edward R. Murrow award for reporting on veterans’ healthcare for WAMC in 2011. Born and raised in western New York, Paul did his first radio reporting while he was a student at the University of Rochester.
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