You see them all along the Route 8 corridor. A hazardous environmental waste site. An eyesore to passersby. A hindrance to redevelopment. A source of unrealized tax revenue. A relic of Connecticut’s industrial past. Brownfields – old, abandoned factory sites – are all over our state, including right in downtown Shelton. And it’s one of my missions in Congress to get them cleaned up and repurposed.
Earlier this year, I joined Mayor Mark Lauretti to tour some of Shelton’s brownfields, including the old Chromium Process building on Canal Street. I saw firsthand what the city of Shelton has been able to do with redevelopment, particularly with the beautiful Avalon apartments built on the site of a defunct asphalt plant and the plans to redevelop the old Spongex building. But I also saw missed opportunities with the brownfields sites—right next to the Riverwalk and near downtown shops and restaurants. The unfortunate reality is restoring brownfields is expensive and tedious. Years and years of manufacturing activity have left these sites contaminated with pollutants like lead and PCBs. Before they can be redeveloped, developers must carefully clean up the contamination, making sure that none of it spreads to the soil or nearby rivers. Unlike a typical property redevelopment process, this two-step process is costlier and more complicated, scaring off potential developers.