WILTON — Voters on Tuesday unanimously voted to keep the town from taking ownership of a contaminated demolition site on Depot Street.

About 15 residents attended the special Town Meeting and approved a waiver of tax foreclosure, which protects the town from having to automatically foreclose on the property, where a complex of vacant manufacturing buildings contains asbestos.

The property will remain the responsibility of the owner, Wilton Recycling LLC, a company that is managed from Portland by Adam Mack. That company will still owe the town about $4,000 in taxes and interest tied to unpaid property taxes from 2009, which prompted the town to seek waiver protection, said Town Manager Rhonda Irish.

Many of the residents voiced frustration about the negative effect the contaminated site is having on the community, seeking answers from selectmen about when progress will be made to clean up the property.

Resident Mark Collins, 52, raised concerns about whether the owner has plans to continue demolition at the site, calling it a public safety hazard that could go unaddressed.

“It’s just another eyesore in town,” Collins added.

Several other residents asked similar questions about what town and state officials are doing to put pressure on the owner to act. They also asked why the town would not take ownership to ensure the property is cleaned up.

Selectman Tom Saviello responded that town officials have spent five years working to keep the demolition project moving forward. He noted that the town could not afford the cost to tear down the contaminated buildings, estimating the project would cost at least $400,000.

The demolition project started last spring and has been stalled since July, when a federal agency reported that construction workers and emergency responders may have been exposed to dangerously high levels of asbestos at the site.

Irish told residents that she spoke with Mack last week, and he talked about his ongoing attempts to pay the unpaid taxes and move forward with the demolition project. The town would have to consider passing another tax foreclosure waiver next year if Mack does not begin paying property taxes again, she said.

The Maine Department of Environmental Protection is also pursuing steps that could mandate Mack take action soon to address the contamination at the site, Irish said.

Mack, who is a former Republican state representative for Standish, did not attend Tuesday’s meeting. He has not returned repeated messages from the Morning Sentinel seeking comment on the issue.

Meanwhile, a federal agency is seeking payment of $154,200 in fines for numerous workplace safety violations cited against Downeast Construction Corporation, the company that was handling the demolition at the site.

The Maine Department of Environmental Protection also plans to fine the two companies responsible for the property, Downeast Construction and Wilton Recycling LLC, because the state agency says they broke asbestos removal laws at the site.

A state-licensed cleanup effort last fall removed the asbestos from piles of debris scattered among the partially demolished buildings at the site, which was the former home of Forster Manufacturing Co.

That effort stalled, however, and has yet to remove asbestos from inside the buildings, according to DEP officials.

The two companies responsible for the site also owe $75,000 to Abatement Professionals, the asbestos removal company they hired to do the initial cleanup work, according to Bob Rickett, who owns the company.

Rickett said Tuesday that he is taking legal action against the companies to collect on the debt.

David Robinson — 861-9287

[email protected]

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