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The Village of Valley Falls took a significant step toward its vision of turning an abandoned and burned-out factory site into a riverside public park. At its April board meeting, the Village awarded a contract to the environmental engineering firm Weston & Sampson to determine the presence of any hazardous materials that may have been left behind from operations of the old Thompson textile mill, which sits on the Hoosic River near the Route 67 bridge.

“Cleaning up the burned-out mill and turning it into a riverside park for our residents to enjoy is a priority for the Village,” said Mayor Richard Andrew. “We are excited to get the project started!”

The project is entirely funded by a Brownfield Assessment grant awarded to the Village by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. “This contract award is the culmination of a months-long competitive solicitation of Qualified Engineering Professionals that generated quite a lot of interest,” noted Kristina Younger, the Village’s project manager. “The assessment will include a geophysical survey, excavation of test pits and soil borings, and groundwater monitoring wells.  Clean-up plans will be based on what contamination, if any, is found. The project also includes the development of plans for a riverside park, and strategies for seeking additional funding to perform the clean-up and construct the park.”

Weston & Sampson has conducted a number of similar projects on old mill sites, including conversions to public open space. Weston & Sampson is an employee-owned, full-service environmental and infrastructure consulting firm with over 500 professionals on staff.  The contract totals $178,800, and the assessment process is projected to take approximately two years. The project will be conducted from the firm’s Albany office, and will use local subcontractors for some parts of the work.

Thompson Mill operated in Valley Falls from the late 1800s until 1992. The mill changed hands to an owner who abandoned the property and let it fall into disrepair. The mill was condemned in 2009 after a major fire destroyed much of the remaining structure. The property is currently undergoing foreclosure proceedings by Rensselaer County, and the first stages of the project are expected to begin as soon as those foreclosing proceedings conclude. The Village intends to take ownership of the property for the assessment phases of the project, and eventually will oversee future projects that clean-up the site and transform it into a park.

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