It took 10 years and tens of thousands of dollars, but the residential portion of the Newhall environmental cleanup is finally completed.
State and local officials gathered Friday to celebrate the completion of the work that has restored the area to what Rep. Peter Villano called "a beautiful suburban neighborhood.
"It turned out beyond our imagination from when we started this," said Villano, who spent countless hours working on the project, convincing his colleagues in Hartford to financially support the project that expanded beyond its initial scope as structural damage to homes extended farther than anticipated and costs far more than anyone thought.
A "massive environmental injustice" has been corrected, state Sen. Joseph Crisco said, referring to the contamination left behind by Winchester Repeating Arms a century ago and discovered in 2000 when the town was contemplating an expansion project at the former Hamden Middle School.
It turned out that contamination wasn't limited to the school site but was widespread throughout the whole neighborhood, prompting the need for the large-scale remediation project that eventually encompassed clean-up plans for 240 properties. There were 131,700 yards of fill removed, 80 structures replaced, 4,700 trees and shrubs planted, 210,700 square feet of driveways and parking areas replaced and 20,350 lineal feet of sidewalks redone, according to officials.
"For a decade, this neighborhood lived under a stigma, and now that stigma is gone," Mayor Scott Jackson said.
Its success is due to the partnerships formed with state agencies such as the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and Department of Public Health and representatives such as Villano, Crisco and Sen. Martin Looney, who worked to get the funding in place for the work.
Then there were local officials such as Economic and Community Development Director Dale Kroop, whose office oversaw work on the structural damage to the homes, Jackson said.
"A project of this scope needs partnership, and we had it," he said.
"This was an extraordinary project with so many complex components," Looney said. "Because it was more massive than anyone anticipated, it had to be negotiated for a shared responsibility for the cleanup."
That responsibility was shared between the Olin Corporation, the Regional Water Authority and what was then the Department of Environmental Protection, as well as the town of Hamden.
From 2001 to 2009, the details of the cleanup were worked out, and it began in ernest in 2010, and finished up late last year.
Villano called it his proudest accomplishment in his two decades in office.
"It took the involvement of the entire neighborhood to get the job done," he said.
With the completion of the residences, the work will now focus on the town parks and then on Hamden Middle School.