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Formerly Polluted Gas Station To Host Farmers' Markets, Food Trucks, More

An artist's interpretation of Chicopee Center at 181 Center St.
An artist's interpretation of Chicopee Center at 181 Center St. Photo Credit: Artist interpretation courtesy of Chicopee Center

The site of a formerly polluted oil service station is being renovated into a new community space.

Redevelopment of the old Racing Oil Service Station property at 181 Center St., in Chicopee, recently received a $10,000 MassDevelopment grant to help local leaders and community members turn the remediated lot into a “Transformative Development Initiative” district. The grant is going to the Chicopee Center For Public Spaces, which will create an open area for activities such as farmers’ markets, food trucks, outdoor exercise, performances, community gatherings and more, MassDevelopment said in a press release.

Suggestions on what to name the new community-use space are now being taken.

“What would be a good name that speaks to Chicopee Center?” the Center posted to its Facebook. “Think of all the different cultures, the various businesses, the historic events.”

Chicopee has owned the Racing Oil site since 2009 when it received the property through tax foreclosure. The site had hosted a gas station or some related type of business since 1920. The property has been mostly vacant since 2004 when an on-site kiosk and gas-pump islands were removed. Petroleum leaks have been reported to the Department of Environmental Protection throughout the station’s history, according to site documents at City Hall.

The site is in Chicopee’s West End, which contains a high concentration of known and suspected brownfields, aka polluted properties, according to the city. The West End is currently undergoing redevelopment as Chicopee executes its AWP area-wide plan for the area bordered by the Connecticut River.

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