Alden Corrugated manufactured cardboard boxes and paper products at downtown New Bedford’s former Taber Mill textile plant from 1947 to 1991. After the plant was abandoned in the early 1990s, the City of New Bedford acquired the 4-acre property for non-payment of taxes. In 1995, the abandoned facility suffered a devastating fire and was demolished, leaving large quantities of demolition debris in the former factory’s basement and exposing the surrounding low-income neighborhood to a potentially dangerous vacant site. Four large underground storage tanks (USTs) holding petroleum products were largely untouched by the fire.
In 1999, the City of New Bedford was awarded an EPA Targeted Brownfields Assessment grant of $65,000 and a follow-up Brownfields Assessment grant of $63,000 for use at
Alden Corrugated. Assessment activities indicated that soil and demolition debris at the site were contaminated with polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons and lead. Working closely with MassDEP staff, city contractors removed roughly 30,000 cubic yards of contaminated soil and debris to a local permitted landfill for a cost of $500,000. Because of the site’s location in a low-income neighborhood, MassDEP and the Executive Office of Environmental Affairs contributed to the cleanup through an $80,000 Environmental Justice grant of service. The state’s contractor pulled the four USTs and removed more than 20,000 gallons of mixed oil and water in 2003, allowing redevelopment efforts to proceed without complications from the tanks.
The City of New Bedford subdivided the site into several parcels to facilitate redevelopment. The half-acre northern lot was sold to an abutting business that was interested in expanding its operations. The 2.8-acre center lot was sold to Sid Wainer & Sons Co., an international fine foods and produce company that is headquartered in the city. In 2004, the company built three 3,000-square foot greenhouses on the property, which are used to grow specialty warm-weather vegetables and to conduct research in sustainable urban agriculture. Produce from the facility is shipped via a rebuilt railroad siding, which also is used by other local companies. In addition, a small park was incorporated into the site, adding valuable open space to the densely built local environment. Overall, the greenhouse project several jobs and contributed nearly $4,000 a year in property taxes to the City of New Bedford.