August 4, 2008

State to Help With Cleanup of Land for New Haverhill Parking Deck

By Mike LaBella, The Eagle-Tribune, North Andover, Mass.

Aug. 4--HAVERHILL -- If $200,000 from the federal government is not enough to clean up the site of the new parking garage, the state is poised to help.

Gov. Deval Patrick said that site is one of five locations statewide chosen for help through the new so-called Brownfields Support Team plan. It will help communities clean up contaminated sites and prepare them for redevelopment.

The city plans to build a 400-car parking garage and transportation center at the former Ted's for Tires site at the west edge of downtown.

Redevelopment of the 57 Granite St. site is complicated by the presence of petroleum in the soil and groundwater. Last year, the city removed three underground fuel storage tanks and a hydraulic lift from the site -- a project paid for by state money.

Also last year, the city obtained a $200,000 federal cleanup grant, which city officials said is the highest available for a contaminated site. Mayoral aide Andrew Herlihy said the city will use the federal grant to hire a firm to clean the Ted's for Tires site this fall. Herlihy said a firm will be selected later this month. Then decontamination work can begin this fall and be completed in about a year.

"Oil leaked into the ground and groundwater, so that's what has to be removed," Herlihy said.

If the $200,000 is not enough to remove all of the contamination at the site, the state will provide additional support for Haverhill, Herlihy said.

The Brownfields Support Team can help Haverhill in a variety of ways, including speeding up site inspections, reviews and approvals by the state; and coordination with the attorney general's office on liability issues, according to the governor.

Ted's for Tires operated as an automobile service and filling station from 1940 until the 1980s. The city took the property for nonpayment of taxes and has used it as a public parking lot for several years.

The parking garage, which is expected to cost an estimated $12 million, will be partly funded through a $7.1 million federal grant that requires a nonfederal match of 20 percent of the cost of the project. The city hopes that matching money will come from the state.

Last month, state Sen. Steven Baddour said $10 million is in this year's state Transportation Bond Bill to build a downtown boardwalk, and $5 million is in the bill for the proposed downtown parking garage. City leaders, members of the business community and Haverhill's legislative delegation are expected to lobby the governor to release the money to Haverhill.

The garage is needed to provide parking for Haverhill's growing downtown, home to more than 800 apartments and condominiums already built or under construction and new restaurants and other businesses.

Herlihy said the final site design work for the garage is underway and could take a year or so to complete -- which coincides with the Ted's for Tires cleanup.

The other four sites chosen for help from the Brownfields Support Team are the former Chapman Valve/Crane Co. site in Springfield, South Worcester Industrial Park in Worcester, Fisherville Mill in Grafton and City Pier in Fall River.


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