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Murray Says T&G May Have to Pay Up for Building Contamination

Thursday, February 07, 2013

 

Lieutenant Governor Tim Murray said that the brownfield site cleanup at the former home of the Worcester Telegram may still take some funding from the former owner, the NY Times Co. The building was sold by the news company after an estimated $1.1 million in cleanup costs to remove asbestos, lead, and other contaminants.

Murray was in Worcester on Wednesday to welcome Quinsigamond Community College into the former home of the Telegram and Gazette, and while he championed the group that bought 18-20 Franklin Street, he said the story may not be over yet.

“The WBDC are experts on brownfields. They have an agreement that was made depending on the level of contamination that is or isn’t present there,” Murray said. “But the T&G may have to contribute more.”

The End of the Deal

The NY Times Company sold the property for $300,000 to New Garden Park Inc., a non-profit subsidiary of the Worcester Business Development Corporation responsible for cleaning up brownfields.

Before the sale, Telegram and Gazette publisher Bruce Gaultney publicly promised that the building was “not a brownfield.”

Two $200,000 brownfields grants have been awarded to the site from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for hazardous substances, and one from the city’s Brownfield Cleanup Revolving Loan Fund, which is also funded by the EPA.

Murray said that this example of how public private partnerships come in many forms and “that we need to try to make sure there’s a larger public policy purpose. And in this case it will be providing jobs, education, and cleaning up contamination, so there is an environmental aspect to it as well.”

What the NY Times Did Pay

The NY Times Co. agreed to pay only 10% of the cost to clean the brownfield site – $137,500, less than any of the government grants allotted for the cleanup.

Other Legislators Onboard

When GoLocal initially reported on the issue, Massachusetts legislators, candidates, and councilors called for the NY Times to contribute more money for the cleanup of the T&G building contamination.

“Any corporation, if they have been deemed responsible for something they should be held to it. I think they should be responsible for it,” said Representative John Mahoney (D). While said he needed to look at the particulars of this case, Mahoney said, “The T&G should pay.”

Senator Jamie Eldridge (D) spoke about the actions of corporations, saying that if they benefit the community, public money works, but when a corporation is not showing a return to the people, it’s just not fair.

“I do believe very strongly that when any company contaminates the property that they should be responsible for cleaning it up. It should be an automatic,” he said.

Worcester City Councilor, Frederick C. Rushton, voiced his opinion on the matter, and agreed that the NY Times has much more of a role in the contamination and should take the burden off of taxpayers and the EPA.

When asked what the best case scenario would be for this situation, he said, “Hopefully [they will pay] more than 10%. They should pay for it all. They caused it, and we know they caused it.”

Councilors Kate Toomey and Konstantina Lukes also agreed.

 

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