MassDevelopment

Chicopee Gets $100,000 to Begin Cleanup Process of Former Uniroyal Tire Industrial Complex

October 20, 2009 : The Republican, by Pamela Metaxas


CHICOPEE – With a backdrop of decaying, vacant buildings that once made up the former Uniroyal Tire industrial complex, state and city officials Tuesday announced the awarding of a $100,000 grant to the city to assess contamination levels on the property, and to pave the way for a $2 million grant to prepare for development.

For years, the city has been struggling in two courts and with a former owner of both the former Uniroyal and Facemate properties to gain ownership of the properties, paving the way for demolition and mixed-use development.

Buildings on the Uniroyal site at Grove and Oak streets have been vacant and deteriorating for about three decades and the Massachusetts Development Finance Agency, known as MassDevelopment, plans to demolish 16 buildings most of which are more than 100 years old.

MassDevelopment will provide construction oversight and GZA Geo Environmental, of Norwood, will help remove and dispose of asbestos and demolition debris removed. Project bids opened last week with demolition and cleanup scheduled to be completed by April 30, 2010.

MassDevelopment President and CEO Robert L. Culver, Mayor Michael D. Bissonnette and Economic Development Director Thomas J. Haberlin, Community Development Director Carol F. Dietz gathered behind gates emblazoned with “No trespassing” signs along the Connecticut River to announce what officials say is the first positive step in conquering a legal and environmental quagmire which has languished in the courts for years.

The site is also close to where a new Chicopee Senior Center is planned to be constructed prompting applause from several seniors attending the press conference.

“The sun is shining on Chicopee one more time. We all knew someone who worked at this plant and everybody in Chicopee drove Uniroyal (tires). We owe it to the people who worked here and raised families to take the city forward and not let this cancer sit. We have cleaned up the waterfront and now we can clean up all 24 buildings here and at Facemate. The future is here with the past egging us on,” Bissonnette said.

The mayor noted the bids for the first demolition phase came in well below the $1.2 million estimate with the apparent low bidder McConnell Enterprises of Essex at $696,440.

Haberlin said in just four short months since the city took ownership of this area as well as the Facemate industrial complex, “Progress has been tremendous. Is it a daunting task but it can be done.”

© Copyright 2009 The Republican.