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Future Museum L-A site gets environmental cleanup certificate


Teamwork! Some of the key personnel involved in the cleanup of the future site of Museum L-A gathered recently at the 1 Beech Street location. Pictured from left are: Brian Beneski of the Division of Remediation, Maine Department of Environmental Protection; Jayne Jochem, Economic & Community Development, City of Lewiston; Jim Byrne, Cleanup & State Funding, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency New England Brownfields program, Rachel Desgroseilliers, Executive Director, Museum L-A; and John Cressey, Senior Project Manager, Summit Environmental Consultants.

LEWISTON - Museum L-A has received a Voluntary Response Action Program (“VRAP”) Certificate of Completion for environmental cleanup at the site of its future home at 1 Beech Street. The property sits along the Androscoggin River and borders Simard-Payne Park. The Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has accepted the findings of the reports submitted by Summit Environmental Consultants as to the asbestos, petroleum and lead-based paint removal. The certificate confirms completion of work that was required to make the building ready to be reused and redeveloped into the future Museum L-A. “The work completed gives us a completely green site to move forward with,” said Museum L-A Executive Director Rachel Desgrosseilliers. “This process took more time than anticipated due to an inadequate bridge that prevented construction vehicles from accessing the section of Beech Street where the future museum is located - but we got it done!”

The mill building and its location between the Androscoggin River, one of the power canals, and Simard Payne Park provides an opportunity for the museum to showcase the driving force behind the industrial development of the City of Lewiston and serve as a catalyst to current revitalization efforts. Museum L-A purchased the building and land from Miller Industries in 2009 and invited the community to celebrate the paying off the mortgage with a bonfire in April 2010.
During a site assessment completed in 2008 under a USEPA Targeted Brownfields Assessment (TBA), asbestos and lead-based paint were determined to be present within the building.  Summit developed a work plan to remove the lead-based paint, asbestos, and do some systematic demolition to access these items.

“Museum L-A’s redevelopment of the Camden Yarns Mill is a true highlight of our Brownfields program,” said Brian Beneski, Brownfields project manager for the Maine Department of Environmental Protection. “Museum L-A has been able to save a historic building, which most would have long ago given up on, and will return it to being a vibrant part of the community.  Once construction is completed, the Museum will have a permanent home that will provide for their future needs and become a point of pride for the community.  The dedication, hard work and leadership shown by the staff at the museum, the City of Lewiston, Summit Environmental and Benchmark has made this an exceptional project, and DEP is grateful to have played its part in supporting the Museum’s vision for the revitalization of the Camden Yarns Mill.  By cleaning-up the past, this collaborative effort has created a healthier environmental and economic future for this community.”

The VRAP certification completes a four-year effort to prepare the site for redevelopment. The Museum utilized the City of Lewiston, United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), and the state’s Brownfields program to conduct assessments into the extent of hazardous substance and petroleum contamination.  The Museum then obtained $148,000 from the City’s Brownfield Revolving Loan fund to remediate petroleum contamination and $200,000 obtained from USEPA’s Brownfields Clean Up program to fund the removal of asbestos, lead paint, and universal wastes from the mill to prepare it for redevelopment. Museum L-A applied for the grant in October 2008 documenting its financial limitations and the costs associated with the necessary remediation. The grant was awarded, with a waiver for the match of funds, in June 2009.  Summit was hired by Museum L-A in July 2009 and began formulating the work plan.

“The City of Lewiston was excited to be able to support this important project with our EPA funded Brownfield Revolving Loan Program,” said Lincoln Jeffers, Economic and Community Development Director for the City of Lewiston.  “The reclaiming of Lewiston’s waterfront is one of the City’s most important development goals, and Museum LA is leading the charge with a seminal project that will help redefine the riverfront and bring people to the water,” he continued.
This funding was used to leverage a $600,000 HUD grant to demolish a portion of the building that was not part of the original mill building and was structurally unsound, and repair and stabilize the remaining original sections of the mill building. The demolition/stabilization phase was completed in mid-December 2011. Oversight of the entire project was provided by the state’s Brownfields program.  Additional cleanup at the site included grading, tree cutting and barbed wire fence removal – enhancing the Androscoggin riverfront.  

“Summit Environmental was pleased to be involved with this remediation and the rehabilitation of a downtown mill building,” said John Cressey, Senior Project Manager at Summit.  “Through the assistance of Brian Beneski of the MEDEP VRAP Unit and James Byrne of the USEPA, this project moved seamlessly from beginning to end from a grant perspective.  When it seemed that a problem may be insurmountable, they stepped in as soon as they were asked and through teamwork with Summit, found a solution that worked for everyone.”

The original building was constructed in 1864 as one of Lewiston’s earliest cotton mills. It was the second of two mill buildings known as The Lewiston Mills. From 1939 to 1992 the site produced and shipped yarn products and was later used as storage. In December 1945 a spectacular fire that burned for four days destroyed the top two floors. Plans are for the third floor to be reinstated in the future. The Museum will transform the once proud mill back to its glory days, and it will stand as a symbol of the strength and perseverance of our community. Museum L-A’s re-location to the Beech Street location is considered to be a catalyst to the downtown revitalization and a key component of the City of Lewiston’s Riverfront Island Master Plan. In the meantime, Museum L-A will continue to offer exhibits, programs and special events at its current location in the Bates Mill Complex at 35 Canal Street, Lewiston.