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Main Street fire cleanup has begun



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Dumptrucks made run after run to the landfill, carting away debris that has been sitting on Main Street for more than nine months. (Photo by Erik Eisele) (click for larger version)
November 04, 2009
BERLIN — After more than nine months, the Berlin wall is coming down.

That's what store owners on Main Street were saying, referring to the wall left standing after the January 17th fire. The clean up started last week on the southern parcel, and the northern parcel will be cleaned up this month.

"Isn't it nice to see it started?" said Cindy Morin, owner of the Inner Glimpse.

Mrs. Morin and others in the Main Street Program have been working to beautify Main Street. This will be a big help in that effort.

Down at Rumorz, Stacia Roberge was singing she was so happy. She had a store-wide sale to celebrate the occasion.

"We're very happy to see it go away," she said. "It's been a long time coming."

Dick Poulin at Middle Earth said it was a relief to see something happen.

"It was kind of frustrating," he said. "You understand, but still."

The city had to go through the RSA 155B process to clean up the property, which gives the city the right to clean up abandoned properties and lien the land owners for the expenses. But because the wall of one of the buildings is shared with the building next door there were significantly more complications to obtaining access. Those complications, combined with repeated delays finding a judge without ties to any of the property owners involved, led to the RSA process dragging out longer than normal.

But now the process is moving forward. Housing Coordinator Andre Caron said the city is preparing to start the bidding on the northern property, and they have already awarded the bid on a third property at 844 Third Ave.

"Things are happening," he said.

An unintended consequence of the delays is that the city won't spend its own money on the clean ups, he said. Instead part of the $4.3 million in Neighborhood Stabilization Funding will pay for the clean up of all three buildings.

The low bid on the southern Main Street property was $9,980. It was awarded to AD Drouin. If all goes well it should be done this week said company owner Arnold Drouin.

In the early phases of the clean up Fire Chief Randall Trull visited the site. The cause of the fire has not yet been determined, and he was looking for clues.

"You can actually determine certain things," he said. "You go from clean to burn or burn to clean."

He was unable to find anything conclusive, he said.

The conclusions were easy to find on Main Street, however. At Greetings Jewelers, Kelli and Autumn Poulin were both all smiles. Kelli said she understood the delays, but she was still happy to see something happening.

Her sister-in-law agreed. "It's a step forward," Autumn said.

That's a feeling shared by the entire city.

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