WILMINGTON — The Olin Superfund Site continues to engender heated discussion in town.
At a Board of Selectmen meeting on Oct. 22, attorney and former board member Michael Newhouse presented to the board the conceptual framework for an alternative plan for the site. Presenting with him was Steven Goodman, Manager of the Wilmington-Woburn Intermodal LLC and Principal of GFI Partners, Inc.
Newhouse asserted that the goal of the evening was to explain and answer questions with regards to the relationship between the developers and New England Transrail, and to acknowledge issues of concern from the perspective of both.
Newhouse also emphasized that the GFI plan would be a warehousing, non-transrail alternative to current proposals.
“They’re in the business of warehousing, they’re in the business of logistics, they’re not in the business of owning or operating railway facilities,” Newhouse said.
With the exception of Chairman Kevin Caira, who recused himself due to potential conflict of interest issues, each of the selectmen voiced concerns regarding the new plan. Based on the nature of the site and ongoing EPA investigation, many concerns were related to environmental issues.
In response to a question from Selectman Greg Bendel regarding project phasing, Goodman said that developers “…wouldn’t build on the containment area until it’s completely resolved by the EPA.”
Selectman Michael McCoy referred back to the years-long standoff with New England Transrail in regards to the cite, characterizing previous conversations with Olin as “a lot of talk and no action.”
Selectman Ed Loud raised the issue of both traffic and environmental pollution from a surge in the number of cars and trucks driving to the site. He noted that the turn onto Woburn Street near the site was already a difficult and congested traffic spot.
Stormwater was also a frequently addressed concern. Due to previous circumstances, including the closing of several wells in Wilmington, and due to the fact that the proposed site would involve a large paved area, board members and residents both expressed concern regarding the way stormwater at the site would be treated and stored.
Though few specifics are available at this point in conceptual planning, Goodman assured those present that “…we know it’s an issue, we know we’re going to have to contain stormwater and clean it.”
Selectman Jonathan Eaton commented on the difficulty of evaluating the proposal at this early phase in its planning.
“Why are we having this conversation now?” asked Eaton. “It’s very difficult on this side of the table to evaluate your proposal, and one of your principals at GFI is acknowledging that it’s very difficult for you to even know what’s there because we don’t even know what the EPA’s plan is going to be.”
Newhouse said that they would not go before the Planning Board without detailed plans and a comprehensive study of the site. He also argued, though, that had GFI begun with an all-in technical presentation to the Planning Board, “we would be exposed to the argument that we had never come to the town and just talked about what our plans are.”