Lynn EDIC approves Hawthorne soil test

January 18, 2012
By Chris Stevens/The Daily Item

The Economic Development and Industrial Corp. Board approved an agreement Tuesday that, if the Athanas family signs it, will allow the city to conduct soil testing in the Anthony’s Hawthorne parking lot.

“We’ve been working on this for months,” said EDIC Executive Director James Cowdell.

Cowdell said the testing would determine what action would need to be taken next when the property is developed.


The cost of the testing proposed by Weston & Sampson, EDIC’s environmental consultants, is $26,870 and will be paid for by the EDIC. Board member Magnolia Contreras said she was concerned about the expense but admitted the board essentially had to approve the project since it initiated it.

“This came about because we were trying to get them to develop this property,” Cowdell said.

It was nearly a year ago that the EDIC voted to take the 32,000 square foot defunct Anthony’s Hawthorne property and its adjacent parking lot by eminent domain. The restaurant which sits at 380 Washington St. has been closed since 2003. A large washed out, rusted billboard that reads, “Welcome, Distinctive Dining, Anthony’s Hawthorne,” still casts a shadow over the parking lot that sits on Central Street separated from the restaurant by an ally that runs between Central and Willow streets.

Before the EDIC could act on its eminent domain threat Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy brokered a meeting between all parties where it was decided that the first step toward anyone developing the land would be soil testing.

The parking lot, which sits across the street from the long-gone Whyte’s Laundry, a one time dry cleaner, has actually been tested several times over the years. According to Cowdell, it has been found to contain among other things extremely high levels of vinyl chloride, which is dangerous if disturbed.

“Let me make it clear, we are taking no liability for whatever is found,” Cowdell said, referring to the parking lot.

Board member Ted Smith said he wasn’t comfortable that the contract made that fact clear. Smith voted against the agreement that was approved by Contreras, Chairman Charles Gaeta, Tyrone Brown, Lisa Panakio and Richard Ford. He said he was concerned that a segment of the contract left EDIC open to clean up costs which, considering they were dealing with dry cleaner solvents, would be very expensive.

Cowdell agreed any clean up would not come cheap but said he was confident the contract absolved EDIC from any liability. He said the only clean up costs the EDIC would be responsible for would be the disposal of the drilling samples taken for the testing and that would actually be Weston & Sampson’s responsibility.

“All they do is take little samples from about six different drilling spots,” he said.

EDIC’s attorney Paul Keating echoed Cowdell.

“There is no liability for clean up unless we or Weston & Sampson is directly reliable for something going wrong,” he said.

Cowdell admitted that the project was a little pricier than anticipated but said it was in line with other projects of similar scope and it was needed.

“If we don’t do it they’ll never do it,” he said.

Athanas family attorney Theodore Tedeschi said Tuesday he planned to review the agreement with the family and its representative Wig Zamore and would make a decision whether to sign it within the next week or two.

Back to News