State grant to be used for assessment of Webster Mill

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The town will use a $81,000 grant to assess the extent of contamination to the Webster Mill property on Broadway. Once this is done it's expected the land will be used for an affordable housing project. Staff Photo/Max Bowen

By Max Bowen

A state grant aimed at redevelopment of contaminated or challenging sites will allow North Attleborough to take the first step in improving the Webster Mill.

Located at 262 Broadway, the 1.64-acre site contains the 40,000-square-foot, partially collapsed Webster Mill, a former silver plating facility. The town received a grant of $81,000, and Economic Development Director Lyle Pernie said the funds will be used to assess the contamination on the property. The site is owned by the Webster Mill LLC.

Pernie said the tests done on the site will be primarily for Trichloroethylene—used to degrease the machinery—and asbestos that were around the windows.

They’ll hire a licensed site professional and dig drywells and do some random testing around junk piles for any chemicals, but predominantly those two,” said Pernie.

Re-use of this site, located at the edge of downtown, will be targeted to include an affordable housing development. Pernie said in all likelihood, the site will be sold to a “dirty developer,” which would buy it at a reduced price and handle any needed cleanup.

All told, over $2.6 million in Brownfields Redevelopment Fund awards were given to support the environmental assessment and cleanup of 16 contaminated and challenging sites across the Commonwealth. Once complete, the 16 projects are projected to redevelop 44.3 acres, create or preserve 682 housing units, and provide 1,625 full-time, part-time, and construction jobs, according to a press release. Since the Fund’s inception in 1998, it has supported 743 awards for a total investment of more than $107 million.

The Brownfields Redevelopment Fund breathes life into vacant or underused properties where redevelopment may be complicated by environmental contamination,” said Gov. Charlie Baker. “Today’s awards will provide communities with the resources they need to transform some of the state’s most challenging sites, clearing the way for much-need new housing units and opening the door for new jobs across the Commonwealth.”