Shoe company settles federal cleanup costs

Brown Shoe Co. Inc. of New York  and Brown Group Retail Inc. of St. Louis have reached a settlement with the US Environmental Protection Agency to cover a portion of the costs related to cleanup of a 20-acre site at 401 South Ave., contaminated with chemicals from past shoe manufacturing. The shoe companies will pay $450,000 of the $900,000 spent by the federal agency in 2005 and 2006, on removal of 2,800 tons of contaminated soil and 10,000 gallons of contaminated sludge found in three cisterns connected to the shoe plant. According to John Hultgren, enforcement counsel for the EPA, the contamination dates back to Regal Shoe, which operated from 1903 to 1954. Regal then merged with Brown Shoe Co. and manufacturing continued. The factory buildings on the property were demolished in 1973. The environmental agency was concerned by the proximity of the contamination to the nearby Beech Hill Brook, but Hultgren said contaminants had not seeped beyond the factory site. While the property was purchased by H & G Whitman Development Co.  in 1987, it remains vacant. The court settlement is subject to a 30-day public comment period, which ends Dec. 28. For information on the settlement or on how to comment, go to