HARTFORD —— Residents of Homestead Avenue may soon witness an effort to clean up the area. Three properties, located at 111, 367 and 393 Homestead Ave., have been awarded a $500,000 Brownfield Grant for remediation. The property is currently owned by the city of Hartford, through the Hartford Redevelopment Agency.
The grant was awarded based on an application submitted by the Upper Albany Neighborhood Revitalization Zone, which consulted with the city of Hartford, as well as state legislators. The Department of Economic and Community Development has awarded more than $34 million in funding for brownfield projects throughout the state. There are 13 revitalization zones, or groups, throughout the city of Hartford.
The factory buildings at these locations have been vacant as far back as 50 years. One of the properties, at 393 Homestead Ave., was most recently a warehouse and storage facility for Philbrick, Booth & Spencer, a steel-foraging manufacturer.
Before that, the Empire Company, which manufactured glass containers, developed the company in the 1930's. Later on, in the 1960's, Hartford Empire Arts & Crafts occupied the building. Hartford Empire Arts & Crafts was a workshop for children with special needs. During the 1970's and 80's, Gardner Auto Top Company used the property.
"All one has to do is drive by and you can see why it needs to be taken care of," said State Rep. Matthew Ritter, D-Hartford.
Looking at the kinds of companies that used the property within the past fifty years, Ritter pointed out that it is clear that there may be potential toxics present, which need to be taken care of.
"Anytime you have a property that old, you have some concerns about what was in the ground and what was in the building," said Ritter.
The area was awarded the Brownfield Grant, which, "provides direct funding for brownfields assessment, cleanup, revolving loans, and environmental job training," according to the EPA.
"It wasn't just politicians that were interested, but the community at large," Ritter.
Rep. Douglas McCroy, D-Hartford, noted that Gerald Thorpe, the head of the Upper Albany Neighborhood Revitalization Zone, had approached him nearly five months ago looking for support.
At a press conference on Tuesday, Mayor Pedro Segarra commented on the contributions and the effort the community has made to become involved.
"More importantly, this [project] also represents a partnership with our community, the most important element of making anything happen," said Mayor Segarra.
As to what will become of the three properties, the city is responsible to determine what exactly will be built there. The next step for the three sites is environmental testing and remediation.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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