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Brownfield cleanup work has Springfield residents looking to the future

Published: Dec. 6, 2021 at 5:01 PM EST|Updated: Dec. 6, 2021 at 7:11 PM EST
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SPRINGFIELD, Vt. (WCAX) - Vermont is investing $25 million to clean up old contaminated properties across the state.

One of the brownfield sites is a former machine tool plant in Springfield that has sat empty for decades.

Work is ahead of schedule at the former Jones and Lamson Machine Company plant, a demolition project that in some ways represents the past present and future of this community.

“Most of the 270,000-square-foot building is no longer there,” said Bob Flint of the Springfield Regional Development Corporation.

What was once a thriving machine tool industry is slowly being taken apart in Springfield. The demolition is hard to miss as you drive through town. The Springfield Regional Development Corporation owns the property.

“It’s 12 acres of flat land on a four-lane highway, very near an interstate with full water sewer and yes, 10-gigabit broadband,” Flint said.

Before the site can be brought back to life, it has to be cleaned up which costs millions. Officials say it would not be possible without public investment. The state is allocating $25 million to brownfield projects around the region.

“This project is one of the more complex brownfield projects in the state,” said Dan Voisin of Stone Environmental.

Some $7 million has already been committed.

Historically, work like this has been funded by the EPA. This is the first time Vermont funding is being used for brownfield sites.

“There are a lot of areas of concern that are below the surface that need to be addressed and any future development would have to consider some of that,” Voisin said.

The building has sat unused since 1986. Residents feel any sort of talk about future development here is a step in the right direction.

“Oh, I think it is great,” Lauren Dustin said.

Dustin moved to town about a year ago. I caught up with her as she left the food co-op which recently moved downtown. Another small change for a community that seems to be redefining itself.

“You know for property owners here, it can only help,” Dustin said.

There are, however, continued signs of struggles in Springfield. Other abandoned factories face uncertain futures. But at the J & L factory, progress is being made.

“I think there is all sorts of interesting and exciting commercial possibilities that we can now realistically think about and talk about that we couldn’t until that building had been taken care of,” Flint said.

Work will be wrapping up soon for the winter then starting back up in the spring. The goal is to have the site cleaned up and ready for redevelopment by the spring of 2023.

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