Money for cleaning up ex-city mill on its way?

Money to help clean up tainted soil at a former cotton mill on the Nashua River, which would help prepare for a large condominium project, may be on its way through federal stimulus funds.

The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services has received $1.8 million in stimulus funds via the Environmental Protection Agency for federal Brownfields projects, which involve cleaning up polluted urban areas so they can be developed.

One of the nine “shovel-ready” projects submitted by New Hampshire in the application involved Cotton Mill Square in downtown Nashua, on the north side of the Nashua River, opposite the Clocktower Apartments. That project would turn a long-closed Nashua Corp. mill into as many as 162 two-bedroom condominium units.

The application sought up to $750,000 to be loaned to the developers to help clean up PCB-tainted soil, as well as lead paint and asbestos. However, the state received only half the total amount it requested. Officials must decide how many of the nine requests will get funded, said Michael McCluskey, of the state’s Hazardous Waste Remediation Bureau.

The final decision will be up to the Executive Council. The timetable of that request is not yet settled. Other requested projects include former tanneries in Concord and Raymond, tainted groundwater in Jaffrey, a closed machine shop in Keene and two sites in Berlin, including a former high school with $500,000 worth of asbestos remediation.

The Cotton Mill Square project may be best known in Nashua at the moment because of a pedestrian bridge over the river that connects the site to Clocktower Place. The bridge, which echoes a 1900s conveyer bridge that carried cotton bales across the river to the textile mill, currently ends abruptly on the north side of the river, but will eventually hook into a walking trail looping around the river.

The New Hampshire funding is part of $9.5 million awarded by the EPA to 13 organizations in five New England states, to provide loans and grants to help carry out cleanup and redevelopment projects. Funding is supported by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.