A large residential lot in the center of town that served for nearly 100 years as a commercial junkyard is contaminated and will cost at least $250,000 to clean up.

City Manager Tom Luttrell briefed city councilors Monday night, Dec. 4, on the matter of the Rockland Street property.

He said there are people interested in the property, but the cleanup costs are prohibitive for someone looking to develop it for residential use. The manager said there are grants the city could receive to remove the contamination in the soil. Once that is completed, the city could offer the property for sale, he said.

The city acquired the three contiguous lots in March 2016 for nonpayment of taxes. The lots combined occupy slightly more than a half-acre near Main Street.

The city removed the junk that had accumulated in the junkyard, but testing showed hazardous chemicals in the soil.

The property had been the home of Ronald and Mona Shafter and also had been the Shafter junkyard. The Shafter junkyard business was founded in 1914 by Ronald Shafter’s grandfather, David Shafter. The founder’s son, Samuel Shafter, later took over the business and then, in 1971, Ronald Shafter began operating the business and continued for about 40 years.

The former home is boarded up.

Luttrell said the property could not be used for residences or even as a public park until the contaminated soil is removed.