Council Continues Talks on Town Owned Abbott Court Parcel

The Abbott Court parcel of town-owned land is environmentally ready for potential developers, Public Works Director Mike Fowler told the Town Council.
The property, currently home to a municipal parking lot, formerly housed an oil company and its tanks, Fowler said at the Tuesday, Nov. 19 Town Council meeting. “There were above-ground storage tanks dating as far back as 1912,” Fowler told the Council.

The parcel has been identified by the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (DES) and deemed eligible for its clean-up fund, Fowler said. With the state agency funds, the tanks and the concrete slabs have been removed. The Public Works department is currently doing brush removal, he said.
Some of the soil was identified as contaminated by petroleum, and DES paid for that removal, Fowler said. The contaminated soil will be trucked off-site and incinerated, he said.
Fowler said with the soils and tanks removed, the site is suitable for “passive recreation.”
“If a developer builds on it, they will possibly discover more soil contamination underground – then we would go through the same process,” Fowler said. He said any future buyer would want to do a risk assessment.
Groundwater monitoring will continue, Fowler added.
Councilor Tom Cardon asked if the broken-up cement had been removed, and Fowler said it had.
Councilor Al Dimmock, a former construction worker, warned, “If they start to dig, we will find petroleum residue. Can we sell it without being responsible for further clean-up? Or will the state continue to pay?”
The state will pay, Fowler reassured him, noting that, “There was already an active file on the property before the town purchased it.”
“How do we know the state will follow through?” Councilor Mark Osborne asked.
Fowler said the town has already used $15,000 from the DES fund, which is built by a 1 1/2 cent tax on gasoline.
“To the best of my knowledge, that fund is secure,” he said.
The future of Abbott Court will be discussed in Council workshops, as the Council determines whether to sell the property, keep it as is or create a public park.