Montague sets deadline for owners of Railroad Salvage Building to come forward, begin demolition

  • The remains of the Railroad Salvage mill building on Power Street in Turners Falls which caught fire Saturday morning, December 31, 2016.

  • The remains of the Railroad Salvage mill building on Power Street in Turners Falls which caught fire Saturday morning, December 31, 2016.

  • A man who said he lived at the Railroad Salvage mill building on Power Street in Turners Falls looks at the remains of the building Wednesday, January 4, 2017. The building caught fire early Saturday morning, December 31, 2016. The man who said the state police questioned him, was not at the building the morning the of the fire but staying with his sister.

  • The remains of the Railroad Salvage mill building on Power Street in Turners Falls which caught fire Saturday morning, December 31, 2016.

  • The remains of the Railroad Salvage mill building on Power Street in Turners Falls which caught fire Saturday morning, December 31, 2016.

  • The Railroad Salvage mill building in Turners Falls, Jan. 1, 2017. Recorder Staff/Andy Castillo.

  • J.D. Keating and his son, Andrew, with their dog, Tank, survey the ruins of a bad fire at the Railroad Salvage mill building in Turners Falls, Sunday, Jan. 1, 2017. Recorder Staff/Andy Castillo.

Recorder Staff
Published: 1/5/2017 11:40:14 PM

TURNERS FALLS — Town officials will give the owners of the Railroad Salvage property until noon today to start demolishing the burned-out building before the town steps in and green lights an emergency demolition of the most unsafe portions of the former mill.

The Montague Selectboard met Thursday afternoon for about 30 minutes before going into executive session to discuss legal strategy for dealing with the long-vacant building that was largely destroyed by a fire.

The building has been decaying for years, but the fire in the early morning hours of Dec. 31 left the building in ruins, and the parts still standing are not considered stable. The owner owes about $50,000 in back taxes on the building, according to the Montague Tax Collector, Eileen Seymour.

The Selectboard, Town Administrator Steve Ellis, Building Inspector David Jensen and Fire Chief John Zellmann were in the executive session for about an hour before they returned and announced the vote to demolish.

The 19th-century former cotton mill was a Rockdale’s Department Store by the late 20th century and then a Railroad Salvage discount store.

What isn’t clear, however, is the ownership of the building. Technically, a limited liability corporation, “Solutions Consulting Group” owns the building, but according to multiple officials at the meeting, that LLC is now defunct.

One of the owners of the LLC is Jeanne Golrick, a Millers Falls resident. Golrick was present at Thursday’s meeting but would not say whether she was the owner. However, according to Jensen, she was at the site earlier Thursday patching holes in the fencing on the Power Street property. Zellmann also said he had spoken to her several times since the fire.

She and her husband, Peter Golrick, did say that they had began to inquire about contractors to demolish the building, which is located between the Connecticut River and the power canal not far from downtown Turners Falls in a section of the village called The Patch.

The Sheriff’s Office process servers have reached out to the LLC in a number of ways on behalf of the town, attempting to speak with the agent in Chicopee and serving Golrick at her address in Millers Falls. Golrick did not answer most questions about a possible timeline for making the building safe during the meeting on Thursday.

However, both Zellmann and Jensen were adamant that the building is unsafe and the town should not delay demolition.

“We need to move forward. This can’t wait till next week,” Zellmann said.

However, legally, the town has to give notice and time for owners to act on their own, before the town steps in. Since the final papers were served on Thursday, they have given the owners 24 hours to respond.

The meeting was tense at times, with town officials showing frustration over owners of the LLC claiming they do not own the property.

When Jensen asked Golrick who owns the LLC’s assets since it has dissolved, she replied “You should know that.”

She declined to comment when approached by a reporter.

The main concerns about the building are the elevator shaft and several exterior walls with no support. The biggest concern for Zellmann and Jensen is the possibly of a wall falling, or the elevator shaft blowing out a wall onto the surrounding areas, which wouldn’t be protected by the fencing around the building. Additionally, the closure of Power Street, where the building is located, has created additional problems. Zellmann said there are now areas where the department would have additional obstacles to reaching fires in that area because of the instability of the building.

“This building is extremely unsafe at this time,” Zellmann said. “I’m not one to sit here and dance. I told you this the other day, Jeanne, and here we are.”

Town Administrator Steve Ellis said the town has double-checked all records about the LLC with the Secretary of State’s website, but it is unclear where the assets went when the LLC dissolved.

Tax Collector Eileen Seymour said the town was in the middle of a long multi-year process to acquire the building because of the back taxes, but had not done so yet.

The Selectboard plans to take up the issue during Monday’s regularly scheduled meeting, but there could be potential action on the building before that date.

Reach Miranda Davis at: 413-772-0261, ext. 280
or mdavis@recorder.com.




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