$250,000 grant to aid Belchertown State School cleanup

  • Demolition work goes on at the former Belchertown State School in May 2015. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO/Carol Lollis

Staff Writer
Monday, November 22, 2021

BELCHERTOWN — A recently awarded $250,000 state grant will allow the town to remove a building from the former Belchertown State School and remediate the site.

The money comes courtesy of the Brownfields Redevelopment Fund, which is administered by MassDevelopment. It will go toward removing the old power plant structure from the site of the Belchertown State School on Carriage Drive and cleaning up the one-acre site on which the structure sits.

“The power plant site is one of the last remaining buildings that needs to be taken care of,” said Claire O’Neill, senior vice president of real estate planning at MassDevelopment.

The money is part of nearly $1.2 million in awards from the Brownfields Redevelopment Fund that was recently announced, with the Belchertown money being the largest individual amount. It was applied for in partnership with the Belchertown Economic Development and Industrial Corp. (EDIC)

“MassDevelopment is proud to administer the Brownfields Redevelopment Fund on behalf of the commonwealth, which provides funding to unlock environmentally challenging parcels with unrealized economic potential,” said MassDevelopment President and CEO Dan Rivera in a release.

The fund finances the environmental assessment and remediation of brownfield sites.

This project will be part of efforts to develop the area into the Carriage Grove Neighborhood, an effort that is being overseen by the Belchertown EDIC in partnership with MassDevelopment.

“The town has been a firm partner in the redevelopment of the state school,” O’Neill said.

Earlier in 2021 the Belchertown EDIC also received $804,000 for the abatement and demolition of the site’s unused power plant. O’Neill said it is expected to cost approximately $1.6 million to remove the building, noting costs associated with engineering designs, taking out equipment from the structure and disposing of contaminated building materials.

“Most of the materials will have to be disposed of,” she said.

O’Neill also said that the EDIC will be meeting this Wednesday to discuss its application to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for a $650,000 grant for the building’s removal. She also said that the hope is to begin demolishing the building in fall/winter of 2022.

The power plant isn’t the only part of the school site that has received attention in 2021.

This year, Brisa Ventures LLC purchased a 12-acre parcel of the developing neighborhood with the intention of constructing 100 units of housing. The company also intends to transform the school’s former administration building into a community center, museum, arts and meeting space alongside either a restaurant, brewery or distillery

In 2018, Christopher Heights opened an 83-unit assisted living facility in the neighborhood, while in 2020 the Belchertown Day School relocated to the neighborhood.

Bera Dunau can be reached at bdunau@gazettenet.com.