New London - In the 1800s, Howard Street hugged the shoreline, and houses on the east side of Shaw Street were waterfront properties.
But over the years, 15 to 16 feet of fill was dumped on the area between Shaw and Howard streets, and businesses prospered. There was a barrel-cleaning factory, two bottling plants, a gas station and a couple of junk yards, according to Martin Brogie, a licensed environmental professional who conducted an environmental assessment of the vacant land.
Now it appears more fill is needed for future development on 5.4 acres that were cleared more than 10 years ago and are owned by the New London Development Corp., now called the Renaissance City Development Association.
The remediation project could cost $1.2 million, according to Brogie.
Brogie told the City Council last week that there is too much contaminated soil to dig up and that about 2 feet of fill is needed to cap the property and seal in containments. The land can never be used for recreational or residential projects, Brogie said.
"The only feasible thing to do is cap it with soil," Brogie said.
More than 60 test pits revealed the land is contaminated with heavy metals, arsenic and solid waste, he said. He added that there may be federal grants available to help with remediation costs.
The city's Office of Development and Planning will hold a community meeting Thursday to discuss Brogie's findings and proposed remedial and restoration plans.
"Most of the area had been cove and had been filled in,'' said Ned Hammond, the city's economic development coordinator. "Usually, it was filled in with waste from industrial properties."
The meeting will also include findings and recommendations on tests done on so-called Parcel J, at the corner of Bank and Howard streets.
The city received a $200,000 grant earlier this year from the federal Environmental Protection Agency through the agency's Brownfields Assessment Program to conduct the study.
The property is part of the 90-acre Fort Trumbull Development Plan and is zoned commercial for offices or research and development space.