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Allied Tannery site in Boscawen to be cleaned up

  • Select board member Lorrie Carey, Bill Lambert, and Moderator Charlie Neibling assist voter Marylin Martin at Boscawen Elementary School in Boscawen on Tuesday. Melissa Curran / Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Published: 3/10/2021 3:39:37 PM

The old buildings at the abandoned Allied Tannery in Boscawen will be torn down and the site on the Merrimack River cleaned up so it can be used for a new purpose.

Voters at town meeting on Tuesday night approved spending $100,000 and using another $500,000 in grant money to remove any environmental hazards at the site.

“It’s right along the riverfront, so it’s got a nice view,” said Town Administrator Alan Hardy. “It would be nice to have someone come forward and redevelop it.”

A similar Allied Tannery site in nearby Penacook was cleaned up by the city of Concord and turned into 25 one-bedroom and 9 two-bedroom apartments last year, with more to come.

The Boscawen parcel is much smaller in size – a little more than an acre – and lacks space for parking, making it a challenge for residential use. One possible idea is to create business incubator space with possible multi-family residences, Hardy said.

The Allied Leather operation was so large that the Penacook plant on Canal and Crescent streets had a wastewater treatment plant and its own coal-fired electrical generator operation.

The company went bankrupt in 1987. Old tanneries often leave pollution from leather scraps, which often contain chromium. The pollution in Boscawen is mostly in the buildings, which will be tested for toxins.

“The tannery process is not very environmentally friendly,” Hardy said.

Clean debris will be taken to the town’s construction landfill, which is nearly full. Contaminated material will be disposed of safely, Hardy said.

“It’s a tedious process, but a necessary process,” Hardy said.

Public hearings will be held to get input on possible future uses of the site. It’s located in a prime recreation spot, near the Northern Rail Trail, Hardy said.

Town spending

In other business at town meeting, the $4.3 million proposed budget was approved, carrying an increase of about 5% over this year’s budget.

Cost drivers included increases to health care plans for employees and contributions to the state retirement system.

“It’s just getting more and more expensive,” Hardy said of health care coverage.

“Those are big issues that we need to solve at the state level,” Hardy said. “They just tell us and we have to pay it. The towns can’t continue to be where the expenses get passed down to.”

About $250,000 to be put into the capital reserve fund for various expenses like a new fire truck, capping the construction debris landfill and IT upgrades were also approved. However, the town was able to use reimbursement funds from the CARES Act, passed by Congress, to avoid that money coming directly from taxpayers, Hardy said.

Solar exemption

The town extended its tax exemption for residential solar arrays, which was originally passed 10 years ago but was due to sunset this year.

Existing arrays will have to reapply for the exemption, which exempts 100% of the value from taxes as long as it is “intended for use at the immediate site” and doesn’t generate enough power to create revenue.

Hardy said the town sees fewer than 10 solar applications a year. That figure was higher in the past when federal tax breaks for solar systems were higher.

Other business

Three petition articles to give tax money to private organizations that could show the money would be used for a public benefit faced mixed results. Voters approved giving $6,500 to the Boscawen Historical Society and $7,600 to the regional Community Action Program. However, a request for $1,500 for the Boscawen Church Park, which is used by the community, was rejected.

About 150 people attended Tuesday’s socially-distanced meeting at Boscawen Elementary School, which lasted about 90 minutes.

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