Preston - Town officials welcomed Thursday's announcement that the federal Environmental Protection Agency has approved $800,000 in cleanup and assessment grants for the former Norwich Hospital property.
But the news won't slow their efforts to secure additional funding to complete the massive environmental cleanup job there.
The town received approval Thursday for three $200,000 cleanup grants and one $200,000 assessment grant. First Selectman Robert Congdon said Saturday that the grants should help clean and demolish four or five more buildings at the former state hospital campus, now called Preston Riverwalk.
The three cleanup grants require a 20 percent, $120,000 town match. That money is included in the 2012-13 town budget approved by voters last week.
To date, Preston has received $2.2 million in grants from the state of Connecticut, plus $1.75 million from the EPA. The town has contributed $300,000 in total as matching funds. The grants have paid for cleanup and demolition of about 20 of the 55 buildings on the 390-acre campus. Only one building, the original hospital and administration building, has been deemed salvageable.
Town officials will meet Tuesday with state Department of Economic and Community Development Deputy Commissioner Ron Angelo to discuss conditions of recent state grants the town has received and the terms of a $4 million low-interest matching loan also approved for Preston.
Congdon and Preston Redevelopment Agency Chairman Sean Nugent have asked state officials to waive the loan repayment requirement if the town meets certain performance criteria. The loan also requires an equal $4 million town matching amount. Residents would have to approve the match through a referendum, but town officials need details of the loan before bringing the matter to residents.
Nugent and Congdon thanked EPA officials for approving the grant and gave credit to PRA member Jim Bell and Town Planner Kathy Warzecha for spending countless hours writing and processing complicated grant applications.
"They have taken on the daunting task of identifying and managing the grant and loan process both at the state and federal level," Nugent said.
And they are not yet done. Warzecha is writing a grant application for a $2 million federal Economic Development Administration grant due in June, Congdon said.