From 1924 to 1984 Mohawk Tannery – also known as Granite State Leathers – operated a business on the river off of Broad Street that tanned raw hides for leather. For years, local winds caused noxious odors to blow through the surrounding neighborhoods – Fairmount Heights, Little Florida, the Intervale Street area, and even further into the North End and out Broad Street.
While it was in business, the tannery deposited sludge containing hazardous substances into open unlined pits on the site. These so-called “lagoons” have been there since the tannery was shut
down in 1984, and this situation has prevented any desirable use of the parcel. The Mohawk Tannery site has long been on the federal EPA’s National Priorities List due to the serious pollution there. Neighbors have understandably been actively seeking a solution for decades. Now after nearly 40 years, Mayor Jim Donchess, together with city staff from the Economic Development, Community Development, and Legal Departments have negotiated an imaginative solution to the long-standing and vexing environmental problem.
The following is a brief description of the various members’ commitments in this public-private partnership:
The EPA. The EPA has agreed to contribute $6M toward a solution devised by environmental experts. The sludge from the lagoons, as well as some asbestos found on the site from Fimbel Door, will be consolidated into one place – an impermeable below ground structure, which, once capped, will be a grassy field above ground. New Hampshire DES is on board with this solution, which the EPA has successfully used for similar toxic sites in the U.S. Blaylock Holdings. Over a period of years, this developer will build 546 units of housing – 230 apartments and 316 condominiums – on 40 acres of the parcel. Twenty percent of the apartments will be affordable housing. Blaylock will make a contribution of $2.3M to Nashua’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund as well as a contribution of $3.8M toward the environmental cleanup.
A New Green Space for the City . . . And Property Tax Base Expansion. Ten acres of the site along the Nashua River will be given to the city for a new green space. A future dream is that a
pedestrian bridge could be built to connect the parcel to Mine Falls Park. When the new neighborhood is developed, estimated property taxes will amount to $2M per year on behalf of
the city and our taxpayers.