Reported by Fred Bever
SOMERVILLE, Mass. — Cleanup of a so-called “brownfield” in Somerville got a million-dollar boost on Monday. Backers say it’s a key moment in the revitalization of the city’s Union Square. And at a press conference Monday, Rep. Michael Capuano used the project to make a few political points.
The Kiley Barrel Co. cleaned thousands of oil drums in the city’s oldest commercial crossroads from the 1950s to 1981, leaving behind a toxic legacy of lead, arsenic and dioxin-containing polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs.
Federal, state and local officials gathered Monday at what is now a grassy acre at the corner of Prospect Street and Somerville Avenue to celebrate the latest government allotment for what will be a $3.5 million cleanup project.
It’s part of a larger commercial redevelopment plan for the slightly down-at-the-heels neighborhood, including a Union Square T stop. And while presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney has criticized President Obama for over-selling the value of government help for business projects, Capuano said this one precisely demonstrates that value.
“Without help from the federal and state government we’d still have a smelting site on Somerville Avenue, we’d still have meat rendering plants across the tracks over in Boynton Yards, and this site wouldn’t have made any progress,” Capuano said. “If people who don’t believe in these things get elected we will not be here again; this site and others like it around the country will not be redeveloped.”
Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone says the new Green Line service and other parts of his proposed $90 million redevelopment plan could be completed in 2016.