Fairfield's Gould Manor Park closed for remediation

FAIRFIELD — Gould Manor Park’s long-awaited remediation efforts started this week, bringing a host of other improvements with it.

The park is one of 40 or so contaminated sites around Fairfield connected to the fill pile scandal that has cost the towns millions of dollars in cleanup expenses.

Officials approved bonding $950,000 in June for the project, though that total also includes funds for improvements in addition to remediation.

“We look forward to unveiling the new and improved Gould Manor Park in the spring of 2022,” First Selectwoman Brenda Kupchick said. “I know it took longer than residents would like to get this project started. However, I want to remind residents that remediation work has to go through the regulatory agencies, which is a time-consuming process. We must make sure that any potential contaminated sites are tested and cleaned up properly.”

An investigation into possible contamination on the site began in August 2019 after reports of potential asbestos that may have come from the fill pile managed by Julian Enterprises. Fill and topsoil from the fill pile on Richard White Way were used in renovations of the sidewalk in 2013 and 2014.

Arsenic, lead and asbestos were all confirmed to be along the sidewalk shortly after the investigation started. More tests followed, along with the creation of a remediation plan.

The state Department of Public Health approved the town’s remediation plan for the park on July 30.

Cisco LLC of New Haven is doing the remediation work, which is expected to finish by the end of the month.

The remediation work at Osborne Elementary, Lake Mohegan, Mill Hill School, Southport Beach, Jennings Beach and McKinley School are all completed, Kupchick announced in her recent town update. Work also has started at the Sunset Ave. site.

The contamination is also being addressed through the legal system with several former officials facing criminal charges. The town has settled one lawsuit and offered to settle another with a Clinton-based environmental engineering firm for $1 million.

“It is my hope that the justice system will hold all those accountable for causing this mess in our community,” Kupchick said in her update.

She said the town has made a lot of progress but there’s more to go.

While the remediation should wrap up in a matter of weeks, the overall Gould Manor project is expected to take about six months and conclude in the spring. Residents are asked to stay out of the park during that time.

Greenway Property Services began work on the infield clay, rehabilitating the irrigation system and laser leveling the fields. New sod will be placed throughout.

Both Little League fields will be completely renovated, including two new scoreboards and new outfield fences. Other items includes rebuilding the tennis courts, improving drainage, replacing the large playground and tree work.

A new pickleball court and a basketball half-court will also be created. An outdoor fitness park is replacing the small playground.

“I am grateful to the town boards for approving our plan to take this opportunity to renovate and provide an improved park for residents to enjoy,” Kupchick said. “I am especially excited to break ground on Fairfield’s first outdoor fitness park.”