Town offers Camden Farmers Market temporary home for the 2019 season

By Susan Mustapich | Feb 04, 2019
Photo by: File photo Until further notice, the 2019 location of the Camden Farmer's Market is unknown. Pictured here is Tannery Park, the market's site in 2017 and 2018.

CAMDEN — Town Manager Audra Caler-Bell is offering temporary locations to the Camden Farmer's Market for the 2019 season, while environmental remediation takes place at Tannery Park, the market's current home.

Caler-Bell announced Feb. 4 in her Manager's Report that she has a "meeting scheduled with members of the Camden Farmer’s Market Executive Committee to talk about plans for their upcoming season and their long-term needs for the Tannery site."

"The cleanup of the Tannery will require heavy machinery, material and equipment staging and construction activities, which makes the site too dangerous for the Farmer’s Market to co-locate on," Caler-Bell reports.

She states that there has been regular correspondence with the Farmer’s Market since the town was awarded a federal grant to remediate residual chemicals in the soil at Tannery Park on Washington Street, which once housed leather tanning operations. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Brownfields Cleanup grant for the Tannery Park property in the amount of $200,000 was awarded to the town in April 2018.

In 2016, Ransom Environmental consultants, hired by the town, determined that the levels of two chemicals in the soil on the former Apollo Tannery property were similar to what is found around paved areas and parking lots anywhere in Camden. Benzo(a)pyrene and arsenic were found in the majority of the 18 soil samples collected at the Tannery Park site. Surface soil concentrations of benzo(a)pyrene were higher at the site, compared with surrounding areas.

Caler-Bell reports that the town has several locations in Camden "that could be great temporary homes for the Farmer’s Market until the cleanup is complete."

She promises that the town will help to secure the location "once the Farmer’s Market has decided on which temporary location works best for them."

Once the remediation is complete, the town will "welcome the Farmer’s Market back to the Tannery," according to Caler-Bell.

She reports she will be speaking to the Executive Committee of the Camden Farmer's Market about their long-term needs, and that these needs "will help to inform the cleanup planning and the nature of the remediation activities on the site."

Planning & Development Director Jeremy Martin reports that Ransom consultants have "commenced their preliminary work, ... but due to the government shutdown things are not progressing as quickly as we had initially hoped."

Ransom is preparing a series of planning documents required by the EPA, according to Martin, including a revised analysis of cleanup and remedial action options, a quality assurance plan, a health and safety plan and a community relations plan.

"Once the EPA has approved these plans there will be a public comment period, which will include a public meeting," Martin reported.

Town officials were "hoping for a mid-March public meeting," but this plan was delayed because of the federal government shutdown, according to Martin. Despite the delay, he expects "that the cleanup is still on track for June of this year."

In 2008, the town received an EPA grant and borrowed $836,000 in bonds to undertake a major environmental cleanup on an area of Tannery Park near Rawson Avenue, where chemicals involved in the leather tanning process had leaked into the soil. Massive amounts of soil were excavated from the site, and the area was capped off to prevent any contact with residual contamination. The area where the Camden Farmer's Market has been situated for the past two years is on the opposite end of the property.

To read Caler-Bell's Managers Report, dated Feb. 1, go to the town of Camden website, camdenmaine.gov.

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