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Turning Copper-Covered Lots Into Green Energy Sources

The City of Sanford is Working to Install A Solar Lot on a Formerly Contaminated Site

Press Release

A project over 30 years in the making is soon coming to a successful close. 229 New Dam Rd. was once home to CGA Inc., a circuit board recycling facility. CGA vacated the property in the 1990s and large waste piles of circuit board shear trim, tires, wood, metal, rubber, plastic, cloths, cans, cardboard, and concrete were left behind by the former operations.

“The site was covered in environmental hazards and was a nuisance to the surrounding community. Being able to remove 4,000 tons of waste and start the initial site work for a solar array has improved the whole area,” said Sanford Planning Director, Beth Della Valle.

After CGA left, the abandoned lot quickly became a dumping site for unwanted items. Residents strongly urged the City to make moves on the property and in 2010 Sanford acquired the site. In the acquisition, the City became liable for all environmental contaminants, mainly soil copper contamination from the copper-coated wires in the circuit boards.

“Sanford has a long history of using our strong public-private partnerships to get the job done,” said Ms. Della Valle. “The CGA site is another example. It really was a group effort and we are starting to see the payoff.”

The City worked with Maine DEP, EPA, EnviroVantage, TRC Companies to decontaminate the site. The clean-up process cost roughly $1.4 Million, with most of the funding coming from state and regional revolving loan funds, and brownfields multipurpose funding. The decontamination process included solid waste removal, tree clearing, wetland restoration, and soil screening, remediation, and revegetation.

Following revegetation of the site in spring 2023, Walden Renewables will begin the installation of a solar farm on the property and an abutting property owned by the Maine Turnpike Authority.

The solar energy generated will be applied to the Virtual Sanford Renewable Energy Corridor, by which the energy that is created on the City-owned section of the solar farm will be slated for use by developers in the downtown mill district, providing an additional incentive for redevelopment in this key area.

“We are confident that establishing a renewable energy component will draw redevelopment & investment to Sanford,” said Ms. Della Valle.

In November 2022, Sanford will be looking to build off its brownfields success and expand upon the Sanford Mill complex. The City is seeking Voter approval for a brownfields bond of $1 million to begin redevelopment of the long-vacant International Woolen Mill in the mill district. This bond would serve as local matching funds to capture funding from the EPA, EDA, and other Federal resources to address the environmental issues of the dilapidated mill stack and boiler house adjacent to the Sanford Mill. 

If the referendum is successful, the ruined boiler house and stack will be demolished, and the space paved to create 127 parking spaces. A lack of parking in the mill yard and downtown are deterrents to the private investment needed to redevelop the area. This project will open opportunities for future public-private partnerships in the heart of the community.

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