IS IT SAFE TO BUILD ON BROWNFIELDS?
The excavator’s teeth raked the soil, searching for the dirty history of 498 Kinsley Avenue. In 1899 it was a marble works, then an iron foundry and, lastly, for more than thirty years, Eastern Wire Products, which churned out miles of baling and coated wire on the banks of the Woonasquatucket River. Nearly four years ago on a snowy March night, the brick mill building, long vacant but for two medical marijuana tenants, met its demise in a conflagration ignited by an explosion from an illegal butane hash oil lab on the third floor.
By the time Farm Fresh RI acquired the three-acre parcel in 2017, it “looked like the ruins of Rome,” quips project manager Lucie Searle. The nonprofit, which operates a variety of farm-to-table programs, plans in 2020 to cut the ribbon on a new $16 million, 60,000-square-foot food hub for its own programs and other related businesses. But before Farm Fresh can build, it must dig.