STONINGTON — The city is moving forward seeking proposals from a pre-qualified list of state bidders to conduct an environmental assessment and remediation assessment at the site of the old Stillmanville Mill.
The city is inviting applications after a letter was sent to a pre-qualified list of bidders available through the state’s Certified Environmental Professionals program in January. Bidders have until Feb. 17 to submit their proposal, and officials said last week that the city plans to review proposals immediately after the deadline and sign a contract as soon as possible.
First coach Danielle Chesebrough said it was years of preparation, but City appear ready to finally move the project forward.
“Almost exactly two years ago, city planner Keith Brynes and I traveled to Hartford to meet the [state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection] to discuss potential revitalization options for this property,” Chesebrough said. “While it has taken us a lot of team effort to get to this stage of the project, this is a key milestone and we look forward to taking this next critical step towards realizing the potential of this property. important in our community.”
For Stonington, solving the plant’s problems was a challenge that lasted for years. The longtime mill, located at 75 Stillman Ave. in Pawcatuck, was purchased by Pawcatuck Landing LLC in 2003, but the company was unable to move forward with plans to redevelop the property and the mill sat unoccupied and unused.
The mill was first built in 1838 and originally operated as a water-powered woolen mill. It then became a metal casting factory, which closed in the late 1990s.
The city completed demolition of the property in September 2019, six months after part of the structure collapsed in an April 2019 storm, forcing city officials to allow emergency demolition. at a cost of $125,000 to prevent lead, asbestos and PCBs from polluting the adjacent Pawcatuck. River. The Finance Board subsequently approved the use of $600,000 of municipal funds to also complete the removal of materials from the site.
After the demolition, the city requested permission to access the site for analysis or remediation needs, but Pawcatuck Landing LLC denied access requests, blocking the project. Chesebrough said Thursday that while the city has been unable to secure funding from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency without the owner’s permission to grant access, state rules on brownfield grants allowed the city to apply for assistance if the property had a tax lien on the property.
Chesebrough said the city took advantage of the opportunity, and Stonington received a $139,000 state grant last summer for an assessment to allow for future redevelopment of the former Stillmanville Mill location.
“This grant opportunity will play an important role in providing insight into this underutilized and contaminated property,” said Susan Cullen, director of economic and community development at Stonington. “The appraisal will allow both the current owner and any potential future buyer to know the facts about the potential cost of revitalizing the property. This is important for understanding future redevelopment opportunities.
Once the auction is complete, Chesebrough said he hopes a committee will be able to thoroughly review the proposals and interview candidates, with the aim of starting work by the end of March to begin the collection and evaluation tests. At the latest, the evaluation work should still start this spring.
“Ideally, we would like the evaluation work to start as soon as possible. We look forward to moving forward and finding a viable long-term solution for this property,” Chesebrough said.