The former Consumer Product Safety Commission laboratory testing facility on Darnestown Road now belongs to the city of Gaithersburg, after City Manager Tony Tomasello signed the deed of transfer Tuesday.
Terms of the deal require that the city use the space for recreational purposes, but the city isn’t sure what the outdoor amenities will be just yet, according to Tomasello. Details about what is being called a “deed of transfer” were not immediately available.
“We think it might have some potential parkland, but it also has some pretty useful buildings, including a fairly modern warehouse with tall ceilings and an open expanse,” he said. “We have the chance to do something pretty unique there.”
Tomasello said he believes the space will be a positive addition to the city.
“For a city our size, one of the most difficult things to acquire is open space,” he said. “In short of demolishing buildings on an existing site, it’s hard to find open spaces. This is a unique opportunity.”
After the federal government labeled the area a “surplus property,” the city applied in 2012 to take ownership. Since then, it has conducted an environmental review of the property.
Spanning 9.54 acres, the property includes eight buildings. It can be linked to existing bike paths and walkways along Muddy Branch Road and Darnestown Road, a city press release said.
Two environmental reports have been conducted on the property, one by the federal government about a decade ago, and one by Gaithersburg in September 2013. Both reports revealed a possible presence of asbestos and lead paint in some of the buildings.
“If we decide to demolish buildings, we will be sure to take extra care,” Tomasello said.
He added that if any contaminants are found to be in the ground from past testing experiments, the federal government has agreed to eradicate the problem.
The city has already set aside $1.4 million for the project in its Fiscal Year 2014 Capital Improvement Plan. It is expecting design and construction costs to surface in FY 2015 and FY 2016.
After operating in Gaithersburg since 1975, the CPSC testing facility moved to a new Rockville location in 2011.