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Informational Brownfield Session Conducted At NewSylum



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As the Fairfield Hills campus is a former brownfield, NewSylum Brewing was chosen as the location of an April 5 informational session on brownfields to help showcase how such properties can be rehabilitated into useful economic developments.

State and local officials came to speak on the subject of brownfields and the work being done to make those into usable, tax-revenue-generating properties.

Done under the auspices of the state’s Department of Economic and Community Development’s Office of Brownfield Remediation and Development (OBRD), the informational session also noted funding programs through the OBRD to help develop brownfield properties.

A brownfield is “a former industrial or commercial site where future use is affected by real or perceived environmental contamination,” according to Oxford Languages. A brownfield can “not just be a contaminated property, it must have economic potential,” said OBRD Project Manager William Wallach.

The OBRD’s mission is to be “a one-stop resource for brownfield redevelopment in Connecticut, providing financial and technical assistance to municipalities and economic development agencies as well as brownfield owners and potential developers,” stated the OBRD in promotional material.

“The mission of OBRD is to return brownfield sites across the state to productive re-use, including mixed use, residential, and open space uses,” stated the OBRD.

OBRD Director Binu Chandy said the informational session was part of a planned effort to “remarket” the state’s brownfield program. She said each year, the state makes available $100 million in brownfield funding, which last year helped fund 110 projects.

“Remediating a brownfield is a win/win/win,” said Wallach. “It can create jobs and housing, and doesn’t hurt the environment while eliminating existing environmental damage.”

There are two competitive rounds of applications for assistance for brownfields each year, the first in January and February, and the second in July and August.

“The funds can be used for anything and everything brownfield, including testing, investigating, planning, cleaning, hiring lawyers, developing; all that is eligible,” said Wallach.

First Selectman Jeff Capeci said that the Fairfield Hills campus had been a “great success” for Newtown and help from the OBRD helped “take the risk out” of the town’s investment.

While Capeci said that “not everything” had gone “according to plan,” he was looking forward to potential development of Shelton and Kent houses as mixed-use commercial/residential developments.

“If that is successful, that can bring more development because the heavy lifting is already done,” said Capeci.

Capeci noted that with NewSylum’s building, 10 years ago the building was run down and crumbling as many other buildings still are on the campus. NewSylum had been a “great partner,” however, and the building was remediated for things like asbestos and it also received a new roof.

Economic and Community Development Director John Voket said he remembered standing in the NewSylum building before its redevelopment and there being “garbage on the floor” and “pigeons in the roof.”

“It’s fantastic to see it brought full circle,” Voket said of the brewery.

In addition to the potential renovations of Shelton and Kent houses, Voket also pointed to another project — the “infamous Batchelder” property — to bring green energy and possible transportation uses to the town.

Another former brownfield, 7 Glen Road, which is now the trail head for the Sandy Hook Organization for Prosperity (SHOP)’s Heritage Trail, was renovated to have a pavilion and parking lot.


Editor Jim Taylor can be reached at jim@thebee.com.

Office of Brownfield Remediation and Development Project Manager William Wallach addresses the audience during an informational session on brownfields to help showcase how such properties can be rehabilitated into useful economic developments. The April 5 event was held at NewSylum, itself a former brownfields location. —Bee Photos, Glass
First Selectman Jeff Capeci looks on as Economic and Community Development Director John Voket addresses a crowd at a Connecticut Brownfield Networking Event on April 5. —Bee Photo, Glass
A view of the assembled audience at a Connecticut Brownfield Networking event conducted at NewSylum Brewing on April 5.
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