St. Albans City to consider a brownfield cleanup on Town Meeting Day

Published: Feb. 27, 2022 at 7:19 PM EST|Updated: Feb. 28, 2022 at 6:45 AM EST
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ST. ALBANS CITY, Vt. (WCAX) - Town Meeting Day is Tuesday, and St. Albans City is looking to use tax increment financing for a brownfield cleanup.

In front of the New England Central Railroad building, tucked between a gas station and the St. Albans creamery, sits a 1-acre empty lot covered in snow.

“It’s a real eyesore. It’s in the heart of the downtown, everybody drives by it,” said Dominic Cloud, the St. Albans City manager.

Cloud says it’s gone through phases of being vacant and being a junkyard for at least the last 15 years.

In the winter, it’s where the city dumps snow.

Now, the city is looking to use $500,000 worth of tax increment financing to clean up the contaminants in the brownfield with the hopes of making development eventually more accessible.

“A component of tax increment finance is that the debts on the bonds that pay for the cleanup are pay for the taxes by the new development,” said Cloud.

The lot on 100 Federal Street is right across the street from dozens of homes and apartments.

“Of course, people bring their dogs over there, they do their business. During the Fourth of July, people shot fireworks off there. It’s irritating for the people,” said Ross Richard.

Richard is one of those neighbors. He says he’s ready to see the space be put to use.

“A building of any sort, a community center would be good down around this part,” said Richard.

But down the road, also across the street from the lot, Adam Greene is one neighbor who would prefer the lot stays vacant. He doesn’t want the extra traffic.

“We have people that drive by staring at whatever we do, judging what we do, we don’t want that,” said Greene.

He says it’s a fun spot for his kids during the winter and wants to keep his neighborhood the same.

“That lot has been empty for those 12 years. And I don’t see it changing and I don’t want it to change,” said Greene.

Cloud says the ballot item is specific to the cleanup that would open the door for future development.

“One that always comes forth is housing. So that’s a contender, but we also have an industrial and commercial uses and users who have expressed interest. But all of those conversations haven’t got consummated to the point that we’re ready to bring those out,” said Cloud.

“Cloud says if this ballot item is approved on Town Meeting Day, the goal would be for it to be cleaned up around the summer with a development deal reached along then, as well.

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