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Berlin Seeks $550,000 Grant To Clean Mill Site

June 20, 2008

By Bill Leukhardt, The Hartford Courant, Conn.

Jun. 20–BERLIN — – Town officials are seeking a $550,000 state grant to help clean the vacant Sherwood Tools building, a 19th-century mill a developer plans to buy and convert into 72 condominium units and 14 town houses near Paper Goods Pond.

The grant would be from the state’s brownfields municipal program intended to help clean unused industrial sites so the properties can be developed and reused.

“Having a vacant mill is a blight. It will be good to save the mill by having a developer use it,” James Mahoney, Berlin’s economic development coordinator, said Thursday.

The Corporation for Independent Living plans to buy the parcel this fall, clean up the site and build the housing units during the next three years, said Martin Legault, president of the company based in Wethersfield.

“We’re just finishing a similar project in Windsor, First Town Square. We have 50 units in the old Eddy Electric building and we’re selling the last one this month,” he said.

If Berlin is awarded the state brownfields grant, the money will be used to clean the Sherwood site, which has coal ash, slag, some heavy metals and other industrial pollutants in the soil, Legault said.

The plan is to collect contaminated soil and encapsulate it in an impervious container buried two feet underground, he said. The estimated cost for that work is about $2 million.

“The town has been incredibly cooperative” in agreeing to seek the grant, Legault said.

The 115,000-square-foot building has been unused for about five years after paper goods giant Solo Cup Co. shut down its manufacturing plants on Main Street and Old Brickyard Lane, cutting 161 jobs.

Sherwood Properties still owns Sherwood Tool.

Contact Bill Leukhardt at bleukhardt@courant.com.

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