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Demolition team hired for Monroe mill

  • A view of the retaining wall that is to be repaired along with the demolition of the old wooden mill building in Monroe. RECORDER PHOTO/DIANE BRONCACCIO

  • A side view of the stone retaining wall beneath the deteriorating mill building. RECORDER PHOTO/DIANE BRONCACCIO—



Recorder Staff
Tuesday, March 21, 2017

MONROE — The methodical work of taking down a sagging, wooden mill building without letting any of it fall into the Deerfield River has been awarded to S&R Corporation of Lowell.

With a $239,000 bid, S&R was the low-bidder chosen by the Board of Selectmen to remove the 1877-built section of the former Ramage Paper mill and the hazardous waste inside it. Also, the company will repair and restore the large retaining wall beneath the mill that was severely damaged in 2011 by Tropical Storm Irene flooding.

Peggy Sloan, director of planning and development at the Franklin Regional Council of Governments, said the foundation wall work was made possible through a $55,000 grant from the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, along with $48,000 approved by town officials Monday night for the stone block retaining wall.

“During the final design work, it became apparent the long-term stability of the lower stone block retaining wall and existing building slab is no longer predictable,” said Monroe Administrative Assistant Marcella Gore. She said if the wall repair isn’t done along with the demolition work, “the rate of decay of the stone wall and existing building slab will increase significantly, due to rain and water runoff passing on, through portions of the retaining wall system that weren’t previously exposed to precipitation.”

Sloan said the community is grateful to the Energy and Environmental Affairs office for another grant, though there is no start date yet for the demolition. “They’re supposed to be largely finished by early June,” she said. The design process for creating an overlook park, where the wooden mill was, will begin after the wall is stabilized and the mill is taken down.

In November, the state awarded $520,000 for both the demolition of the old building and its replacement with a park under permanent conservation.

The condition of this vacant mill sparked concerns that it could collapse into the river, polluting it and affecting both the river ecology and outdoor recreation businesses downstream that rely on the river for kayaking, rafting, fishing and camping.

Paper manufacturing began on the site in 1887 and continued until 1996. Since then, the green wooden building has deteriorated. A recent assessment has found hazardous building materials there, including asbestos. Adjacent to the mill is Monroe Bridge and the TransCanada No. 5 Station Dam. In the summer, the hydroelectric dam has scheduled releases of water for recreational and habitat protection purposes.