More contamination surrounds Lunt property than originally thought
GREENFIELD — It may be summer before the town takes ownership of the former Lunt Silversmith property, if at all.
The purchase and sale agreement between the town and the owner of Lunt expired on March 29, and at about the same time, groundwater contamination was found in areas surrounding the former factory — a threat to the sale town officials thought they had cleared.
Until now, the town’s consultant had found very little off-site contamination.
Robert Pyers, the town’s economic development director, said the state attorney general wants the town to take 90 days to complete off-site testing before entering into another buy-sell agreement.
The town has asked the attorney general for a Brownfields covenant that would prevent anyone from suing the town over contamination issues after it takes ownership of the property.
Mayor William Martin, Pyers, and the Town Council, which had to vote all of the money that has been spent on the property to date, said the purchase is contingent on the attorney general granting the covenant.
So far, the town has spent $130,000 on a two-year lease-to-own agreement with Lunt, $75,000 on a down payment, which Pyers expects will be returned to the town, and Town Council has approved $1.5 million to purchase the property.
The town has also used several grants to start the cleanup of the property.
Pyers said the attorney general wants to know how much contamination surrounds the site on Forest Avenue and Davis and Kenwood streets before making a decision on the town’s request for the covenant.
In the meantime, the court has issued a “no trespassing” order on the owner’s behalf, so the town can no longer access the property. The property and its sale is being overseen by federal Bankruptcy Court.
What the town can do, at this point, is test surrounding properties for contamination, and that’s what Pyers said it intends to do.
Pyers said he and the mayor will go to the council with updates and the council will have to approve any agreements about money. He said they will also be looking to councilors for their input concerning other issues.
“It could be August before we close on the property, now,” said Pyers, who originally had hoped, with the mayor, to close this spring.
“We still don’t think the contamination we find is going to be horrible — we’re keeping our fingers crossed,” he said.
Pyers said whether the town ends up buying the property, it will still have to make sure the it is cleaned up, however, and by whomever, that might be done.
Pyers said the town’s Recreation Department uses the baseball fields there for its T-ball program, but will probably not be able to until everything is cleared up with the owner and the court.
He said he is not sure whether the “no trespassing” order will affect Greenfield Minor League, which uses the fields in the spring and summer.
“The town’s first priority is to protect the health and safety of its residents, and that’s what we are going to do with this property,” said Pyers.