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Planned demolition will go forward following asbestos inspection

2 warehouses & "co-gen" building ready to sell

Project manager Mike Sterling, left, of equity co-owner Green Steel of Scottsdale, Ariz., Northumberland selectman Jim Tierney, and equity co-owner Bob Chapman of Chapman Scrap Metal Recycling of Milan, Gorham, and Berlin met on Tuesday, Nov. 5, on the site of the former Wausau and Groveton Paper Board mills in Groveton to discuss the buildings that are either ready to rent or sell and the expected timeline for further demolition work. Photo by Edith Tucker. (click for larger version)
November 13, 2013
GROVETON — Three of the newer buildings on the site of the former Wausau and Groveton Paper Board mills on the banks of the Upper Ammonoosuc River are ready either to rent or sell, explained Bob Chapman of Chapman Scrap Metal & Demolition in an informal meeting with selectman Jim Tierney and project manager Mike Stirling of Green Steel. Green Steel and Chapman share equity ownership.

Two adjacent warehouses, one of 40,000 square feet and the other 25,000-sq.ft., are ready to sell, Chapman explained. The interior space is open, allowing it to be tailored to a new owner's specifications. The so-called "co-gen building," 9,000-sq.-ft. of space that no longer has any co-gen equipment attached is also available. The interior of the two-story former Wausau offices, with a total of 35,000-sq.-ft. of floor space is being cleaned up now that its exterior has been buttoned up.

"We're hoping soon to get clearance from an independent third-party inspector now that the asbestos has been completely removed from the boiler building," Chapman said. The contractor took considerably longer than expected to get that part of the project done.

Once the inspector gives the green light, the adjacent buildings can be torn down, he said. The boiler building itself, including its two metal stacks, will come down last. Everything that is visible above the flat roof will have to be taken down by hand, Chapman explained.

Stirling pointed out that Chapman had come on site in April after he had had to dismiss a previous general contractor who not only did not go about the demolition and cleanup project in an orderly way but also mixed together materials, such as concrete and steel, that should have been kept separate.

"We've made good progress," Chapman said. Although he had hoped to have the site cleaned up by year's end that is not going to happen because of circumstances beyond his control. Unless the winter weather is unusually mild, it likely will be June 2014 before the site is completely cleared for new construction.

When Stirling was asked a for his reaction to the Sept. 27 report — "Groveton Mill Site: A Study of Business Enterprise to Occupy the Mill Site" completed by Business Planning Associates of Groton, Vt. — he replied that four of the five scenarios they described and analyzed were viable: controlled environment agriculture (CEA) for fish aquaculture or vegetable hydroponics; medicinal botanicals; distillery; and artisanal cheese creamery. Establishing a large commercial laundry does not appear to be feasible, but a small one might be an opportunity, depending on a number of factors, Stirling said.

"We've had prospective companies from Ohio and Canada come to take a look," he said.

The report was commissioned and funded by the North Country Council with a grant from the federal Economic Development Administration (EDA) of the Department of Commerce as well as support from the Neil and Louise Tillotson Fund.

Both Chapman and Stirling praised the indefatigable efforts of Benoit "Beno" Lamontagne, the Department of Resources and Economic Development (DRED)'s North Country economic development representative. Lamontagne, who is bi-lingual, has been focusing his attention on Canadian manufacturers, such as Bombardier, engaged in the public transportation and-or transit-related sector, subject to the Buy America Act that applies to purchases that use grants administered by the Federal Transit Authority (FTA) or Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).

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