Tuesday, June 25, 2024

“The Players may have Changed but the Game Remains the Same”


Stratford Army Engine Plant Development

On May 12th there was a virtual public informational hearing hosted by the State Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) and the United States Army to review a draft Stewardship Permit Renewal for the Stratford Army Engine Plant Property. Over 75 Stratford residents logged on to the Zoom meeting.

The Stewardship Permit’s purpose is to require the completion of investigation, remediation, and long-term stewardship requirements including monitoring of environmental conditions, engineered controls, and institutional controls, as applicable. The permit requires financial assurances and public participation in final remedy decisions. The Stewardship Permit, which is a 10 year permit, ensures that the statewide environmental remedy remains effective into the future.

The application for the Stewardship Permit is available for inspection at the SAEP website, https://www.nae.usace.army.mil/Missions/Projects-Topics/Army-Engine-Plant-Environmental-Restoration-Project, and at the Stratford library, and at DEEP’s Record Center, by appointment when open, and the CT DEEP’s webpage listing public notices of proposed permit decisions: https://portal.ct.gov/DEEP/Public-Notices/Public-Notices-Proposed-Actions—Opportunity-for-Comment/Proposed-Individual-Permits.

The Stewardship Permit is for what the Army refers to as the “upland area”. This is separate from the Record of Decision that was signed on March 12th that established a timeline for remediation of the “tidal area”. As a point of clarification, both the “tidal area” and upland area”, the Army Engine Plant, is owned by the United States Army, and, according to the Army, these permits which list all of the remediation that has to be completed, will not be transferred to any entity until that entity is reviewed and deemed having the financial, environmental, and engineering expertise to take over the plant.

Councilwoman Laura Dancho asked if the Town of Stratford had input as to the permit would be transferred. According to Tom Lineer (Army), “maybe to some extent” but it is the Army’s decision on who they select that they best believe would meet the financial obligations on the remaining cleanup. Note: According to Mr. Lineer the cost of the Army Engine Plant cleanup is staggering.

The draft permit identifies the applicant’s obligations to complete environmental clean-up and monitoring of the property, and any future corrective action to ensure that any release of hazardous wastes or hazardous constituents have been investigated and remediated to levels protective of human health and the environment, in accordance with Section 22a-133k of the RCSA, known as the Remediation Standard Regulations.

The renewal of this permit (presently held by the US Army) continues the cleanup obligations being implemented at the property. The permit authorizes the completion of environmental investigation, remedial actions where warranted, and as needed, post-closure care, long-term maintenance and monitoring to ensure the corrective actions remain effective into the future. The proposed activity is not expected to adversely affect any natural resources or human health.

All interested persons are invited to express their views on the tentative determination concerning this draft permit. Written comments on the draft permit must be submitted no later than May 21st. Comments provided during the public meeting will also be considered. Written comments should be directed to:

Amanda Killeen, Environmental Analyst, by email at Amanda.Killeen@ct.gov or by postal mail:

Amanda Killeen, Environmental Analyst
Remediation Division
Bureau of Water Protection and Land Reuse
79 Elm Street, 2nd Floor
Hartford, Connecticut 06106-5127

The Commissioner will not make a final decision regarding this proposed permit until the public comment period has closed and all comments received verbally at the public meeting or received in writing have been evaluated and addressed.

Historical Information:

The Stratford Army Engine Plant (SAEP) was a U.S. Army Tank-Automotive and Armaments Command installation and manufacturing facility located in Stratford. In 1995 the Base Realignment and Closure of the United States Department of Defense, recommended closure of the plant. On 30 September 1998, Allied Signal concluded operations in the plant and returned it to the US Army.

For the next 11 years the Army was involved with “Team Stratford” to develop the property. There has been support in the development by U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-CT, who opened up pathways for development, as well as Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy.

In March 2008 the United States Army auctioned the 78-acre site off with a winning bid of $9,612,000 which also included the 1,720,000-square-foot facility of over 50 buildings. This bid failed to be paid off and was placed for rebid. Robert Hartmann of Hartmann Development has a $1 billion plan to develop the former plant into a destination resort, dependent on the US government selling him the entire property for one dollar.

Several Stratford administrations have been working to redevelop Stratford Army Engine Plant property (historically with announcement of development timed for municipal elections) and the issuance of a Stewardship Permit Renewal begins the process of cleanup of contamination.

The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) leads oversight of the site’s environmental remediation
In 2014 the Connecticut State House of Representatives and the State Senate had passed a bill to create a special tax district at the plant to levy taxes and issue bonds which was viewed as helping to finance the redevelopment project, particularly road construction, sewage systems, and environmental remediation.
According to a statement from Mayor Hoydick in her State of Stratford video/statement she acknowledged that the Record of Decision (ROD) signed in March was the first phase of remediation, the dredging of the mudflats. She stated that “the transfer of the property from the Army to the developer, Point Stratford Renewal, must happen within six months of the signing of the ROC. Note: The Army did not indicate them having received an application from Point Stratford Renewal.

Point Stratford Renewal is a collaboration of at least three separate Connecticut Companies: Loureiro Properties LLC, Development Resources LLC and Sedgwick Partners LLC. Their vision for the former Avco being mixed-use development to accommodate several million square feet of residential, senior living, retail, hotel, entertainment, beer garden, and various commercial/industrial uses.
Presenting for the Army was Tony Delano, Erika Mark, and Tom Lineer; CT DEEP was represented by Amanda Killeen.


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