Berlin Provides Tyson Land Purchase Update

BERLIN – Officials say plans to purchase the former Tyson plant continue to move forward, as an appraisal is underway and they expect to select a firm to handle the environmental evaluation of the property later this month.

“We haven’t run into any unexpected hurdles or impediments that should keep us from continuing to move forward,” Mayor Gee Williams said.

In December, town officials announced that they were entering negotiations to buy the 60-acre property for $2.75 million. Williams said this week the town was still on track to purchase it in the six to nine month timeframe originally proposed. The required appraisal — being performed by the Trice Group — is underway and a company should be selected later this month to do an environmental assessment of the site.

“We went into this assuming there may be some environmental challenges,” Williams said, citing the property’s industrial history. “We want to make sure it’s suitable for recreational use and human interaction.”

Last week, the building inspectors the town routinely uses took a walk through the former Tyson plant with Dave Engelhart, Berlin’s planning director.

“We just wanted to see what was up to code and what wasn’t, any obvious deficiencies,” he said.

Engelhart said many of the issues with the building — including plumbing and mechanical problems — related to its age. The metal sections of the roof, he said, would need to be replaced.

“The roof has some spots where it leaks,” he said, adding that snow had been sitting on the building during the walk-through.

Williams said the condition of the building and the land it sits on would be taken into account during the negotiation process. He said that with the overwhelming support citizens had expressed for the potential purchase, officials would not give up on the idea just because of a few issues.

“We wouldn’t just throw our hands up,” he said. “Just become we might have a couple hurdles does not mean we’re going to give up.”

Williams added that if there were some environmental issues with the site, there were state and federal programs that could help with remediation.

“The idea is to come up with a plan that’s financially responsible to mitigate any potential problems,” he said.