Montague plans to take ownership of Railroad Salvage building after EPA cleanup

  • The Railroad Salvage building, in the industrial Canal District of Turners Falls, is set to be cleaned up by the federal Environmental Protection Agency, and likely will be taken over by the town of Montague. Staff File Photo/Paul Franz

Staff Writer
Published: 1/25/2021 2:26:45 PM

MONTAGUE — Redevelopment of the dilapidated Railroad Salvage building is slowly on its way, with the town of Montague planning to take ownership of the site after a cleanup that is scheduled for this year.

The Railroad Salvage property, in the industrial Canal District, was largely destroyed by a fire in 2016. It had changed hands several times since the Railroad Salvage discount retail store closed in 1994, but had been unoccupied ever since then.

The town has floated a handful of different visions for the site, from converting it into a public park to facilitating development of apartments or office space. But the potential liabilities associated with the property have made owning it an unattractive idea.

Now, however, the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has committed to cleaning up the site, which, in the town’s eyes, would remove much of the uncertainty associated with it.

The owner of the site, listed as Solutions Consulting, has not paid taxes to Montague since 2011, and now owes the town $116,629, including associated fees, according to Town Administrator Steve Ellis. The unpaid taxes is likely a legal basis for the town to take ownership of the site, and Montague is now in land court regarding that question.

However, the Selectboard has decided not to ask the judge for a final ruling until after the EPA’s cleanup is complete, so that the town won’t be taking on any unknown liabilities that might be discovered in the course of the EPA’s work.

“Knowing what we’re taking before we agree to take it seems like an important principle,” Ellis said.

The EPA cleanup is scheduled to start in March, and will take a year at the very most, according to Town Planner Walter Ramsey.

After the cleanup is complete and Montague takes ownership, the town will probably pursue grant funding for a redevelopment study, which would consider whether market conditions exist to support some kind of commercial development, Ramsey said.

“The town is very interested in the redevelopment of the site,” Ramsey said. “Having it cleaned up and under municipal ownership is going to advance its potential for redevelopment and reuse.”

Reach Max Marcus at or 413-930-4231.

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