EPA grant of $650K could clean up former mill property on Great Road

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NORTH SMITHFIELD – The organization that owns the 32-acre lot that once held Andrews Mill has plans to clean up the property, and is seeking a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to fund the effort.

Woonsocket-based NeighborWorks Blackstone River Valley is applying for a Brownfield Grant to finance the removal of contaminants at 765 Great Road.

The lot holds a structure built in 1918 that once served as the Andrews Mills Company Plant, producing wool textiles from the Branch Village property. The Tupper Corporation owned it in the 1960s, and added modernizations such as metal panels that now cover the front facade.

Trash hauler Coastal Recycling was cited by the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management in 2014 for leaving piles of waste and recycling on the lot.

In 2018, the main building, a single story structure that features a unique sawtooth roof, was added to the National Register of Historic Places. The property also holds a former boiler house, machine house boiler room, gate structure, water tower and pump house.

NeighborWorks purchased the lot for $300,000 the same year with plans to transform it into an affordable housing complex.

The nonprofit development corporation has reportedly secured the property and repaired the roof of the historic building, visible from the busy road through the village. Official plans for converting the lot into housing are still a few years out, according to Meghan Rego, director of resource development and communications. Earlier this year, a group graduate students from Harvard University published a potential design plan that envisioned creation of a 76-unit, three story apartment building.

Now, NeighborWorks is submitting a grant application to the EPA in hopes of securing $650,000 for needed remediation.

“These funds will be used to clean up contaminated soil and other potential hazardous materials, prior to or during future site redevelopment,” noted a release on the effort.  

A public meeting on the cleanup plan was held virtually in November.

Draft copies of the grant application and a draft Analysis of Brownfields Cleanup Alternatives are available for public review at NeighborWorks Blackstone River Valley, 719 Front Street, Suite 103, Woonsocket, Rhode Island 02895 during normal business hours Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m, or by emailing Bill Lewis, co-director of real estate development for NeighborWorks at blewis@neighborworksbrv.org for an electronic copy. 

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