Wilton receives $200,000 grant to clean up tannery site
WILTON - The town received word today that it will receive a three-year, $200,000 grant from the Environmental Protection Agency to clean up the former site of the Wilton Tannery.
The town has been actively working with state and federal agencies ever since selectmen voted to take possession of the facility in 2010, after foreclosure notices were sent to the owner with more than $75,000 owed in back taxes. The Wilton Tannery, located on Route 2, opened in 1959 and operated for 38 years; treating hides with a variety of chemicals.
A pair of Phase II Brownfield assessments, conducted by the Campbell Environmental Group and the state Department of Environmental Protection, located a few areas of concern on the property. These included elevated levels of chromium, particularly near a dump site of hides, scrap metal and other material, as well as a buried oil tank, still containing an amount of No. 6 fuel.
A feasibility study conducted with the assistance of DEP identified the best option as being a limited-scale cleanup targeting the areas of greatest concern. The project would work to consolidate and contain the hides and other debris in the site's preexisting landfill, pulling that material back from an adjacent steam and capping it off. The buried tank would be removed and the remains of the building would be torn down. The property would maintain certain deed restrictions, such as no wells and maintaining a radon system, but could then be sold to a developer.
The town applied for a $200,000 grant through the EPA Brownfields Program to help pay for the project. A full-scale cleanup, which would include trucking out a significant amount of soil and gravel and replacing it, was estimated to cost more than $2 million.
Today, Town Manager Rhonda Irish learned that the town had received the grant. It will need to be matched with $40,000 locally, although in-kind contributions such as materials, labor and even volunteer work will qualify as a match.
Irish said town officials were "very excited" to learn the town had received the grant. The town has three years to complete the project, although Irish said she thought work could begin as soon as late summer or early fall.
"[The property] will meet EPA and DEP standards," Irish said. "And then we can sell it."
Congressman Michael Michaud (D - Maine) praised news of the federal grant, one of six Brownfield cleanup grants providing $3.4 million to Maine communities and organizations.
“This important funding will help Maine communities to revitalize hazardous land for development,” Michaud said in a statement released by his office. “The EPA Brownfields program is essential to helping small communities redevelop contaminated space for new economic development opportunities.”