Following demolition, town will meet with owners to discuss future of Webster Mill

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With the demolition of the Webster Mill complete, town officials are looking ahead to the future use of the site.

Town Manager Michael Borg said that over the next six months, debris from the site must be removed, per Department of Environmental Protection regulations, before anything else can be done.

Once this work is complete, Borg said discussions with the property owners would begin, which would include cleaning up any contamination and whether the town could purchase the land.

“We are exploring all the options available to us, and should we purchase the property, we would then collaborate with our community members to determine the best use of this land,” he said.

Removal of the debris is estimated at $858,000. The town had previously received a Brownfield Revolving Loan from the Environmental Protection Agency, but this can only be used to address contamination.

The Webster Mill lot is 1.64 acres and has an IC-30 zone, according to a spokesperson for the town. An IC-30 zone allows for commercial or industrial uses with a minimum 30,000 square foot lot size.

The former jewelry manufacturer was almost entirely demolished the week of March 4, after inspections of the decaying building revealed that a previous roof collapse put pressure onto a wall, compromising the building’s structural integrity, according to information provided by the town. This resulted in the building bowing inward and putting it in danger of collapse.

On Tuesday, March 5, the Board of Survey—established in accordance with Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 143 and consisting of Director of Public Works Mark Hollowell, Fire Chief Christopher Coleman, Building Inspector Brian Butler and disinterested party Steve Cabral—determined that any remaining portions of the building that are deemed hazardous or dangerous must be demolished.

The current owners of the site had been reached, but claimed extreme poverty and were unable to do the repairs. This led to the town’s decision to demolish almost all of the building.

The remaining building on the property has been boarded up to prevent anyone from entering and a six-foot chain-link fence will be set up around the property.

When asked about contamination on the site, Borg said that the results from air samples were less than 0.010 f/cc, or <LOQ, “which indicates that there were so few fibers of asbestos detected that the results could not meet the limit to quantify them accurately.”

“We are also pleased to share that our pest specialist visited the site on Friday and found zero rodents trapped in any of the eight units,” said Borg.