A subcommittee in West Hartford recommended terminating the purchase and sale agreement for the old University of Connecticut West Hartford campus.
The recommendation came from the town's ad hoc subcommittee on economic development on Thursday.
It also said the town should get public opinion on what to do with the property.
“Given the uncertain and potentially significant cost of remediating the UConn property, stepping away from the current purchase agreement is the right decision," said Dallas Dodge, chairman, ad hoc subcommittee on economic development. "West Hartford should continue to work cooperatively with UConn, and I look forward to leading an open and constructive community engagement process to determine the best use of the property.”
West Hartford officials said the town executed a purchase and sale agreement for the 58-acre parcel of land for $5 million from UConn back in July 2016.
Extensions were granted since then to give the town enough time to weigh environmental concerns and perform inspections.
However, UConn said the final extension would end on Dec. 15.
The town said its environmental tests have yet to be completed. Both the town and the school confirmed that PCBs were found, though common due to the age of the buildings. They said the issue can easily be corrected.
Since the testing is not complete, West Hartford officials said they do not know how long that would take or how much it would cost.
"Town staff and the Town Council have spent a significant amount of time on the purchase of this parcel, but the financial costs, environmental concerns, and potential for liability are simply too significant to go forward with the purchase," said Chris Barnes, minority leader and subcommittee member. "We need to be cautious and act in the town’s best interest.”
The subcommittee said it will still help UConn find a buyer for the site.
Its recommendation will be officially presented to the West Hartford Town Council at a regular meeting scheduled for Dec. 12.
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