NEWTOWN – At the Fairfield Hills Authority meeting on Monday, August 23, Christal Preszler, deputy director of economic and community development, introduced Russell Bartley, a licensed environmental professional who had surveyed the campus before the town did buys the property from the state.
She noted that since then he has been helpful over the years in offering advice to the city regarding the campus.
Mr Bartley noted that environmental studies had been carried out prior to the town’s purchase, finding that most serious concerns were centered around buildings, including the impact of a combustion mechanism used to remove medical waste and some soil contamination at the laundromat.
Application of pesticides around buildings constructed over the years; modern pesticides break down faster than chemicals used in the past.
In addition, lead paint on windows and trim has, over time, leached into the ground.
Mr. Bartley reviewed the standards used to measure soil contamination; residential standards are stricter and assume that children could come in contact with the contamination.
The original intention was to remediate the soil to commercial standard, but as the project progressed it was possible to meet the residential standard within budget.
The next step after remediation was to monitor the groundwater to see if the natural process would further cleanse the area.
Mr Bartley wrote a report to conclude the work done, a six-page letter with attachments to urge the state to finalize its participation.
His work includes additional options for tackling pesticides, and he recommended that a note be added to the act stating that groundwater is contaminated, which is allowed by law and assumes that a water source public is available.
When Mrs Preszler asked if any of the pesticides are present at three parts per trillion, Mr Bartley explained in detail why the standards are set so low – in some cases it is not possible to test the soil at these low levels.
These thresholds were set to avoid cancer cases.
He noted that the contamination rate for a pesticide was 20 parts per trillion and is now 10; at the current rate of decline, the amount is expected to be three parts per trillion in six to ten years and there would be additional monitoring to confirm this.
The authority unanimously agreed to send the document to the state. President Ross Carley thanked Mr. Bartley for his work on campus.
In other cases, authority members welcomed Amy EW Mangold, Director of Parks and Recreation, and the Chair of the Parks and Recreation Commission to discuss the campus bicycle park project.
The park would work with the bike-sharing program and would include bike ramps, open to all ages, but with particular appeal for ages 6 to 12.
She highlighted the importance of getting kids out and the popularity and health benefits of cycling.
The park would be approximately one-third of an acre or 18,000 enclosed square feet, if fenced.
The commission discussed the proposal, debated locations, how construction might work near existing mature trees and whether the park would complement the possibility of mixed-use development in Fairfield Hills.
Ms Mangold said the project would not fall under the capital improvement plan, although she hoped the city would support it financially; she planned donations and fundraising efforts to finance the project.