Goodyear Plant in Windsor

Photos courtesy of (Valley News – Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News.

The Goodyear Plant in Windsor is currently undergoing clean-up. The following is a Valley News article from September 28th, written by Patrick O’Grady.

The article can be found at this link:

“The small trees pushing up through the concrete seem out of place.

On the remaining slab where the Goodyear plant sat for 50 years, once a mainstay of Windsor’s strong industrial sector but more recently a symbol of its lost manufacturing base, the trees found a way to grow in the economically stagnant property, even alongside the piles of asbestos-ridden demolition waste.

Now, that vegetation is being cleared. But it’s making way for a different sign of life.

The slab where the site’s main building once stood, just east and a little south of the Amtrak train station, is scheduled to hold a 500-kilowatt solar array by the end of the year.

The property is being cleaned up by Crown Point Excavation, of Springfield, Vt., including removal of vegetation and piles of debris from when the building was demolished years ago to make way for the new solar project.

Businessman Terry McDonnell, who owns Artisans Park off Route 5 north of town, will lease the land from the Windsor Improvement Corp. for the solar array. WIC recently took the title to the property from the former owner, Connecticut River Development Corp., and will work with the Springfield Regional Development Corp. to help manage it.

McDonnell said last week the cleanup and solar project represent a strong collaboration with several people lending their expertise, including Tom Kennedy, executive director of the Southern Windsor County Regional Planning Commission.

“The regional planning commission was invaluable in this,” McDonnell said. “Without Tom Kennedy, the project does not get done.”

At the site recently, Kennedy explained the cleanup’s funding and financing.

He said federal money from the Environmental Protection Agency’s Brownfields Program was used to complete an assessment of the property several years ago. From there, a corrective action plan explored possible uses for the parcel, which are limited because it is in the Connecticut River floodplain.

The idea for a solar array was key to accessing more Brownfields money for the cleanup, Kennedy said.

“That was a great project because it was economic development-related, so we could use our funds to do remediation,” Kennedy said.

The cleanup cost of $350,000 is being funded through a grant of $150,000 and a $200,000 loan to WIC, Kennedy said.

McDonnell expects work to begin on the array Nov. 1 and be completed before the end of the year. He said another important player in the project by Harpoon Brewery in the Artisan Park.

“They are the ‘off-taker’ of the electricity being produced,” said McDonnell, meaning the brewery will buy the electricity to run its operation.

The history of the Goodyear parcel, which also includes several other buildings, dates to the late 1800s, according to a community relations plan written in May by Weston & Sampson Engineers Inc., of Waterbury, Vt., for the regional planning commission.

The plan says the land was used for agriculture beginning around 1886 and then the National Acme Co. built a machine shop there in 1917 and operated it until 1936, when it was sold to a division of the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. for the manufacture of rubber shoe parts. Goodyear closed the plant in 1987, putting about 300 people out of work, according to a United Press International story on the shutdown.

The closing had been announced the previous fall and was the result of foreign competition. The work was shifted to Korea and Taiwan. The Goodyear shutdown came several months after Jones and Lamson Machine Tool Co. closed its doors in Windsor, the UPI article said.

The UPI story also said Windsor’s town manager at the time, Paul Hughes, expressed optimism that a new tenant could be found within a year. Instead, the building was demolished in the 1990s.

The site includes five buildings, according to the Weston & Sampson report: the Quonset Building, the maintenance building, the Bateman Building, the Banbury Building and Hills Garage. Current uses by tenants include woodworking, light manufacturing, storage and warehousing.

John Tansey, a member of WIC who has long worked on Windsor’s economic development efforts, said the previous owner did an excellent job keeping the property functioning. Tansey hopes WIC can take a more aggressive approach with the help of SRDC and the regional planning commission.

“All of those together are what made this happen,” Tansey said. “The solar array is a nice first step.

“We will look at the long-term needs (of the property) and further rehabilitation to keep the property marketable.”

Flint, the president of SRDC, agreed that initially they will deal with the day-to-day repairs and maintenance of the property and focus on the cleanup of the slab. SRDC will manage the property and look for additional uses and option as well as funding.

For now, though, McDonnell and others are celebrating the efforts to repurpose a property that sat vacant far longer than anyone expected after Goodyear closed.

“My feeling is nothing can happen unless everyone chips in and helps in different ways,” McDonnell said. “It is a great project. We are cleaning up a site and installing renewable energy.” “