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Ansonia and Other Municipalities Eye Revitalization Through Brownfield Cleanup

State Rep Kara Rochelle announces an additional million dollars in funding to demolish and remediate a brownfield in downtown Ansonia. The state is awarding $19 million for brownfield clean up in 23 municipalities.
Ali Oshinskie
/
Connecticut Public Radio
State Rep. Kara Rochelle announces an additional $1 million in funding to help remediate a brownfield site in downtown Ansonia. The state is awarding $19 million for brownfield cleanup in 23 municipalities.

Twenty-three cities and towns across Connecticut will receive state funding for brownfield remediation. For the city of Ansonia, it’s step two in a long process to bring more industry, jobs and, ultimately, taxpayers to the city. 

On a rainy day in a year ago, state Rep. Kara Rochelle of Derby and Ansonia stood beside Gov. Ned Lamont outside a blighted factory on Ansonia’s North Main Street. There were more masks then, physical distancing and furrowed brows. A year prior, a carpet padding manufacturer called Rug Pad USA had approached the city of Ansonia to buy the property. Mayor David Cassetti and his economic development team set out to find funds to clean it up. In July 2020, Rochelle announced $500,000 in state bonding to take down one section of the factory and ready the property for redevelopment. Demolition was set to begin in winter but there was a problem with asbestos. 

This week, and almost a year later, Rochelle, Cassetti and a handful of others met on the same property. There was no rain, few masks and a much cheerier Lamont.

Rochelle too was happy. She announced the state is awarding “a $1 million investment to continue to do brownfield remediation and cleanup of this area.” 

Demolition and cleanup will take place on 3 1/2 acres of land at 35 North Main St., part of the former Farrel Foundry and Machine Co. site. State and local officials conjured images of a revitalized downtown Ansonia with 60 acres of potential development to bring the city into a post-COVID economic recovery.

“You need to start somewhere, and you need to take this piece by piece,” Rochelle said of the baby steps it’s taking to get the project off the ground. “We would be taking up half the state’s resources if we tried to demolish everything and remediate everything all at once,” she added.

She’s been watching the promise and retreat of economic revitalization play out in the Naugatuck River Valley for close to 40 years. But Rochelle says she sees this moment as different -- and better funded -- from any other she has seen.

Connecticut is awarding more than $19 million in state grants that the municipalities will use to clean up more than 30 previously developed properties whose prior use left the land with hazardous waste or pollutants.

Ali Oshinskie is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms. Ali covers the Naugatuck River Valley for Connecticut Public Radio. Email her at aoshinskie@ctpublic.org and follow her on Twitter at @ahleeoh.

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