December 7, 2017

W. Hartford committee urges rejection of UConn campus purchase

Students walking through UConn's West Hartford campus in 2016. The campus in now vacant and UConn is trying to sell it to the town..

A West Hartford town council subcommittee has recommended rejecting the possible $1 million purchase of the UConn campus in town due to likely hefty remediation costs.

Dallas Dodge, chairman of the council's ad hoc subcommittee on economic development, said the recommendation to terminate the purchase and sale agreement will go to a vote Tuesday before the full council.

After seven extensions UConn told the town it would not grant further extensions and needed a decision by Dec. 15, Dodge said. The purchase price had been lowered from $5 million to $1 million for the 58-acre campus in and around Asylum Avenue and Trout Brook Drive. There is "significant" PCB contamination on the property, Dodge said.

Environmental testing of the property is not yet complete, and will not be prior to the Dec. 15 deadline, he added.

"Tuesday night we will vote on a resolution to terminate the current purchase agreement and authorize the subcommittee to begin a community engagement process to seek proposals to develop the property in the most beneficial way for the town," Dodge said Thursday.

The property is zoned residential, so it has limited potential uses, and would need council approval for any possible zone change, Dodge said.

He praised UConn's willingness to work with the town and the committee members who deliberated so far on the issue.

"I think it will be to UConn's benefit to work with the town on this," Dodge said. "The town still has the right of first refusal so any developer who approached UConn would have to work with the town anyway."

A UConn spokesperson said UConn is reviewing the matter and declined comment.

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