Redevelopment Authority and Northeast Utilities Sign Agreement to Conduct Environmental Work at Parsons Paper

Environmental assessment work is expected to begin this fall at the former Parsons Paper site following an agreement reached between the Holyoke Redevelopment Authority (HRA) and Northeast Utilities (NU), which provides the HRA with $250,000 to complete a full environmental assessment of the site, and use any remaining funds towards cleanup and demolition, in preparation for the development of the property. The assessment of the site is expected to begin in the coming weeks and is expected to be completed by the winter.

The cleanup, demolition and re-use of the Parsons Paper site is a major component of our Urban Renewal Plan titled “Connect. Construct. Create . – A plan for the revitalization of Center City Holyoke” approved in 2013.  “This agreement allows the HRA to immediately completely document current environmental conditions of the site, while also leveraging these funds for the removal of any remaining contaminants that may be found.  Once remediated, this four acre parcel of land will be prime real estate for commercial or industrial development and we’re excited to move this major component of the Urban Renewal Plan forward” said Marcos Marrero, Director of Planning and Economic Development for the City and Executive Director for the Redevelopment Authority.

The agreement provides for additional environmental improvements as part of NU’s efforts to address impacts from prior Manufactured Gas Plant operations associated with the former Holyoke Water Power Company. Over the past 15-years, NU has been completing assessment and remediation efforts along the Connecticut River and plans to undertake additional remediation efforts in the area near the Holyoke Dam during late 2015 or early 2016.The company’s commitment to the HRA represents environmentally beneficial project associated with those efforts approved by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection.

“My administration continues to prioritize making sites ready and available for development,” Mayor Morse said. “Parsons has been unused and blighted for years, and this work will allow the City to move forward on redeveloping one of the downtown’s largest parcels.  I’d be remiss if I did not thank Northeast Utilities for their contribution, in addition to praising the work of both the Planning and Economic Development Office and the Holyoke Redevelopment Authority for taking this opportunity to make strides in moving our Urban Renewal Plan forward.”

“The environmental benefits from this work are significant,” Holyoke Gas and Electric director James Lavelle commented. “Developing a better understanding of the condition of the land at the former Parsons Paper site will not only advance remediation of any soil conditions, but it could also allow us to explore the possibility of moving water through the site, from the first level canal to the second level. That would improve water quality throughout the canal system and the river and potentially allow for  additional hydroelectric generation.”

Situated between the first and second level canals at 84 Sargeant Street, the four acre site is located near South Holyoke, comprising one of the ten areas designated within the City’s Urban Renewal Plan.  The site was first developed in the late 1800’s and was known as Parsons Paper Mill until the facility closed its doors in 2004.  In 2008, a fire significantly destroyed a majority of the abandoned building’s structures, and the City officially took ownership of the property in 2012.

Prior to the fire, four reportable environmental releases at the site were assessed, remediated and closed in compliance with Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection regulations. In 2010, the US Environmental Protection Agency completed a $2,000,000 clean-up of asbestos and other hazardous materials found at the site and in the fire debris. While those clean-up efforts addressed the acute environmental hazards at the site, a holistic environmental assessment of the entire site as it exists today is needed to further address any remaining environmental issues from its historical use as a paper mill.

Northeast Utilities (NYSE: NU) operates New England’s largest energy delivery company. NU and its companies are committed to safety, reliability, environmental leadership and stewardship, as well as expanding energy options for its more than 3.6 million electric and natural gas customers in Connecticut, Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Learn more about NU and its family of companies at