WILTON — The former Forster Mill has been accepted by a state Department of Environmental Protection program that helps communities clean up hazardous waste sites.

Town Manager Rhonda Irish said the state agency will help assess the extent of toxic pollution on the site, a necessary step in an involved process that could lead to demolishing and clearing the site of the former mill.

“It’s very important that we do this and not just jump ahead and try to take things down,” said Irish at a Tuesday night meeting with the Wilton Selectboard.

The town recently foreclosed on the blighted downtown property after a lengthy legal battle with Adam Mack, who owned the property through Wilton Recycling LLC. The lawsuit sought to order Mack to tear down the building, but Irish has said that the town felt the two parties were not going to find a solution and foreclosed on it.

Mack, of Portland, has been in legal trouble in recent years for issues related to the mill and for some that weren’t. He was fined by the DEP for improper removal of asbestos from the property, served a six-month federal prison stint for misusing federal money in an urelated case, was sued by Wilton to have the mill’s demolition, recently filed for personal bankruptcy, and on Monday, pleaded guilty in federal court to immigration fraud.

Now that Wilton owns the property, the town is looking at options for the long-anticipated mill razing.

Irish said the DEP Brownfields program will involve taking an inventory of the hazardous material, such as asbestos, that might still be on the site. While the site has been inspected, she said the roof and the boiler house have not been. The Brownfields program helps clean up property of hazardous waste so it can be redeveloped.

The town will also get an estimate of the cost of abatement and disposal of the hazards.

The second part of the program involves gathering data on the site and looking at the property’s historical uses. After these initial steps, the site would likely move into phase two of the Brownfields program, which would involve looking at contaminants that may be in the ground.

Irish said after the initial stages, the town either would qualify for a Brownfields program cleanup at the site, or if it didn’t qualify, it would have the groundwork done so the town could clean up the property on its own. The first phase of the assessment is expected to start in May or June, said Irish.

Irish said she is also getting estimates on the cost of demolishing the remaining Forster Mill building and an adjacent free standing wall that remains from an earlier demolition effort.

Selectboard Chairman Scott Taylor said while the town is applying for these programs and grants, many applications ask what the land will be used for after the cleanup.

Taylor said it would be good to start gathering ideas for what residents would like to see the site used for.

Selectman Tom Saviello said he would like to see the site considered for senior housing development since it is within walking distance of downtown.

“To me that becomes a very viable location. That’s an activity that I think would be great for down there,” said Saviello.

Kaitlin Schroeder — 861-9252

[email protected]


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