May 20 – VERNON – The city has received a $650,000 federal grant to help continue efforts to clean up Daniel’s old mill as he works to convert the building at 98 E. Main St. into housing and commercial spaces.
WHAT: The city received a $650,000 federal brownfields grant that will be used to clean up the former site of Daniel’s Mill in downtown Rockville, which produced paints and pesticides.
NEXT: The city intends to further develop the old mill into housing and commercial space, mainly consisting of apartments.
The grant is awarded by the Federal Environmental Protection Agency and is part of $6.97 million in brownfields remediation grants awarded to various cities across the state to clean up abandoned industrial and commercial properties, according to a press release.
The federal grant is the latest funding for the cleanup effort the city has received. Last year, the city received another $2 million grant from the state Department of Economic and Community Development.
The site is a former textile factory from the 1800s that was also used as a machine shop to manufacture fire retardant paints, pesticides, as well as offices and warehouses.
“There is contamination that has been identified, and containing it is obviously a priority for the city,” Vernon spokesman Dave Owens said today. Contaminants “don’t get leached out”, he added, but that’s common for old industrial sites, and to develop the site, the old mill must first be cleaned up.
The city is currently working with Atlanta-based developer Camden Management Partners to convert the old mill into housing and commercial space.
“It’s a complicated process … to redevelop these buildings and this beautiful mill complex and the cleanup is a huge part of that,” Owens said. He added that no plan for the site has yet been submitted to the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission.
The general idea of the site is to build luxury apartments and potentially offices or small shops, city administrator Michael Purcaro said today.
Vernon Mayor Daniel Champagne said earlier this week that the federal grant for the cleanup effort “is another key step in our efforts to restore Rockville’s gateway, develop housing and commercial space and put the properties back on the tax lists”. Champagne added that it was a “true example of local, state and federal government working together to move Vernon forward.”
The city received the grant with help from the University of Connecticut Brownfields Technical Assistance Program, which assisted city staff with the application process.
“The funding will serve as a catalyst for the revitalization of Daniel’s Mill and promote economic and community development,” said UConn program manager Nefeli Bompoti, who added that the program enjoys working with cities to “support their efforts to transform sites into community assets.”
Champagne said the cleanup effort would be a “transformative project for downtown Vernon.
“This is a spectacular complex of properties with waterfalls and the Hockanum River flowing through it. Every grant we get brings us closer to our goal,” Champagne said.
The city is also working with Camden Management Partners to transform the adjacent former Amerbelle and Anocoil mills into housing and commercial space. Other major mills in the city, including Talcottville Mill and Hockanum Mill, have been converted into apartments and the New England Motorcycle Museum, respectively.
In addition to the Vernon Daniel’s Mill property, the City of Stafford also received a $650,000 Federal Brownfields Cleanup Grant from the EPA to clean up Earl M. Witt Middle School at 20 Hyde Park Road.
“These much-needed awards help our communities protect the health of residents, drive economic growth and development, and improve the quality of life for all,” U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn, said earlier this week.
Ben covers Coventry and Tolland for the Journal Inquirer.