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Laconia Company working on Maplehurst Demolition

The first bite out of the Maplehurst’s laundry building occurred just after noon on Thursday. Darin Wipperman/The Littleton Courier. (click for larger version)
July 03, 2012
BETHLEHEM — Two of the smaller buildings on the grounds of the Maplehurst Hotel are now demolished. Members of the public watched the action unfold last Thursday. Demolition of the main building will take place in about two weeks, according to Fire Chief Jack Anderson.

Earlier this month, Anderson, who also serves as the town's Emergency Management Director, announced the project's winning bid. Spears Brothers Building Wrecking of Laconia received the work after a bid of $347,010.

The Town of Bethlehem owns the property as the result of a tax deed from 1996. Although once an esteemed part of the grand hotel era, the Maplehurst's buildings have deteriorated over the years. Anderson has been concerned about the potential safety and fire danger present at the site.

Spears Brothers conducted preliminary work in early June. They waited until the end of the Bethlehem Elementary school year to start in earnest. Silt and security fences were put up around the site to prepare for the demolition work. Heavy equipment arrived as well.

The large amount of hazardous materials found in the Maplehurst's buildings is one of the many challenges involved in the work. In a written statement posted online, Anderson noted that monitoring of the hazardous materials is part of the mitigation plan for the demolition. Asbestos in the main building was specifically noted in Anderson's statement.

The complicated steps involved in tearing down and disposing of hazardous materials are governed by federal and state regulations. "Everything has to be done by the book," Anderson said. He noted that for a project this big, "you have to have an environmental engineer onsite."

GZA Environmental serves that purpose at the Maplehurst site. They will work with Spears Brothers throughout the demolition project. GZA staff oversees all of the activities involved in taking down the site's buildings and deposing of debris. As part of the process, the onsite crews must determine if any of the area soil contains hazardous materials.

The staff monitoring the level of hazardous materials in the buildings determined that debris from the third smaller building will need to be shipped to a special landfill in New York. Debris from the two buildings taken down on Thursday did not require such special handling. Waste from those buildings can be sent to Bethlehem's landfill.

Anderson appreciates all of the safety precautions. He said that Spears Brothers has been "very good to work with."

A truck from the fire department was onsite Thursday to help water down the buildings. This was a way to decrease dust from being released as the demolition progressed.

Even with the onsite experts and the safely distant crowd, Anderson had some humor for the curious dozens who watched the work. He informed them, "If you see a big cloud of dust coming your way, run."

Anderson said that the main building is too perilous to allow for asbestos removal prior to demolition. The building did pass a test on lead paint, but the demolished material will be treated as "bulk asbestos." Anderson said that it will be sent to a landfill in Berlin.

Asked about the fate of the trees remaining on the grounds, Anderson said that those still standing should be saved. This includes several maples very close to the main building.

Thursday's crowd was interested in the location as the future site of the town's library. Anderson, who has worked on the demolition project for two years, is excited about the future. "It's for the town," he said. "That's what it's all about."

Spears Brothers is a family-owned business that began in 1972. Three generations of the family have operated the business. They provide demolition services throughout Northern New England.

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