Monroe to seek court order for demolishing section of paper mill

  • The sagging wooden section of the former Ramage Paper Mill on the Deerfield River in Monroe is at risk of falling into the river.

  • The sagging wooden section of the former Ramage Paper Mill on the Deerfield River in Monroe is at risk of falling into the river. RECORDER STAFF/PAUL FRANZ

Recorder Staff
Published: 8/31/2016 9:27:47 PM

MONROE — Now that the Aug. 31 deadline for a town demolition order has passed, town officials will seek a demolition order from Housing Court for a dilapidated section of an old paper mill that is in danger of collapsing into the Deerfield River.

In July, the Selectboard gave absentee building owner Jeffrey Phillips of Pleasant Valley, Conn., 30 days to demolish the green wooden section of the old Ramage Paper Mill or risk a civil or criminal complaint in Housing Court.

No taxes have been paid on the 4-acre building complex since 1999, but the state of neglect has become a larger issue for the town, with concerns over how rapidly the wooden section is deteriorating.

The property, purchased by Phillips in 1996, was condemned in 2015. “It is likely that portions of the building will collapse and fall into the Deerfield River, a public resource area frequented by hundreds of outdoor recreators on an annual basis,” Regional Health Agent Glen Ayers said.

TransCanada, which owns hydroelectric dams along the river, also raised concerns that a building collapse would result in serious pollution and affect downstream uses of the river, including fishing, kayaking and whitewater rafting.

“We did not expect to hear back from the property owner, who has abandoned the property, but laws mandate that he have the opportunity to address the problem and act accordingly,” said Marcella Stafford Gore, who is town clerk, tax collector and administrative assistant in this town of 115 residents.

“We are in the process of having the green wooden portion of the building surveyed and appraised, so that the town can take that portion by eminent domain,” Gore said. “Taking ownership of that part of the building will allow the town to gain funding that will assist us in the engineering for the demo and the abatement of any hazardous material.”

The next Selectboard meeting is Tuesday, Sept. 6, at 6 p.m. in the Town Hall.

A site study this spring by Tighe & Bond engineering services put demolition costs for the green building alone at around $260,000, because of asbestos abatement and the need to address other hazardous waste in close proximity to the river.

The larger adjoining brick mill building is not part of this process.

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