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EPA Clears Way to Little League Field for Former Cleanup Site in Gardner

Release Date: 12/13/2001
Contact Information: Andrew Spejewski, EPA Press Office, (617) 918-1014

BOSTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced a proposed agreement that would clear the way for the Gardner Little League to redevelop the former L Z Kamman site for baseball fields. The agreement allows the Little League to purchase the site without incurring any liability for EPA's $800,000 cleanup of the site, which was completed in 1998. The Little League will pay EPA $12,000 as part of the agreement.

The proposed agreement is subject to a 30-day public comment period, which begins today with its publication in the Federal Register. Once the 30-day period ends, EPA will respond to any comments before deciding whether to finalize the settlement.

"The Little League's plans for this parcel are a perfect example of what EPA's cleanup program is about: first cleaning up contaminated sites, and then finding positive ways to reuse them," said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator of EPA's New England Office. "I'm extremely pleased that we can help the Little League turn this property into a field of dreams for the people of Gardner."

"This agreement with the EPA, accomplished with the outstanding cooperation from their staff, is the first step in tasks that must be accomplished before the first pitch is thrown," said Stanford Hartshorn III, treasurer of the Gardner Little League and project coordinator. "The Little League will take this site, financially and environmentally unsuitable for commercial development, and turn it into a high profile, tournament-ready ball field, signaling rebirth of an area sorely in need of attention. This is possible in large part because of the negotiated settlement with the EPA. When the long range benefits of this proposal are weighed, it is the youth of Gardner who come out the winners."

The 10-acre site was used as a furniture outlet and manufacturing plant by the L Z Kamman Company until 1991, when the site was abandoned. A fire in August, 1998 leveled the building and spread asbestos-containing debris across the site and nearby properties. After the fire, EPA began a cleanup, which removed over 280 truckloads of asbestos containing material. The work, completed in December 1998, cost EPA approximately $800,000.

Under federal law, EPA is required to recover the cost of the cleanup from owners of the property, if possible. If the Little League purchases the property without this proposed agreement, then the Little League could be liable for the total cost of EPA's asbestos cleanup.

EPA's cleanup addressed asbestos contamination, but some contamination of the site still remains from gasoline products and other materials. The Little League is working on addressing this problem, under the supervision of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection.

The Gardner Little League plans to develop the site into a baseball field for regional Little League tournaments. The project includes a main field, practice facilities, a permanent concession-stand, off-street parking, and field lighting. The remainder of the site will have public-access walking and bicycle trails. The Gardner Little League has budgeted up to $200,000 for the entire project.