BUCKSPORT, Maine — The new owner of the defunct Verso Paper mill is hoping to begin work demolishing the site this spring and to have the job done by sometime next year, a company executive told town officials Wednesday.
AIM Development has yet to file a demolition permit application with the town, but a representative of the firm met Wednesday night at the town office with municipal officials to discuss whether they might be willing to grant a few waivers to Bucksport’s demolition ordinance.
Jeff McGlin, AIM’s U.S. vice president for development, told members of Bucksport’s ordinance committee that the Montreal-based scrap metal dealer is looking to expand the hours it can operate while tearing the mill down and to guarantee completion of the project by some way other than having to post an expensive bond.
McGlin said AIM expects to have demolition contractors submit bids soon for the job. He said that if work only can be done during weekdays and not on Saturdays, it will draw out the process and make the project more expensive.
“It’s very limiting,” McGlin said of the town’s ban on demolition work on weekends. “That’s going to cost us money.”
McGlin also asked the committee if the town might be flexible with how it gets a guarantee out of AIM that the scrap metal firm will not stop demolishing the mill before the job is complete.
Securing an irrevocable letter of credit from a financial institution, rather than having AIM put up a bond, could be a way to secure that guarantee without forcing AIM to come up with the cash up front, town officials indicated.
McGlin said that AIM hopes to submit a demolition permit application to the town by the end of March, then to start work around the end of April or early May, and to have the demolition work completed by late summer of 2016.
“I would say 14 to 16 months,” McGlin said of how long the project would take to finish. “A year is very tight.”
McGlin and town officials did not discuss what AIM might do with the 250-acre waterfront site once the demolition work is complete. Company officials have suggested they might redevelop it, as they are doing with a former Verso Paper mill in Sartell, Minnesota, but have also said they are evaluating the site as a possible permanent recycling facility, using the deepwater port access to export salvaged metals.
McGlin said Wednesday that AIM plans to provide the state public utilities commission with information the panel has requested by Friday, March 13, but he declined to comment on what information AIM would provide. The Public Utilities Commission had asked AIM to specify its plans for the biomass generators adjacent to the mill and how its operation will stay in line with requirements for the renewable energy credit contract it has in Maine through 2016.
Town Manager Derik Goodine and Economic Development Director David Milan and members of the committee told McGlin at Wednesday’s meeting that they expect the elected Town Council to consider the possible ordinance changes at the council’s April 9 meeting.
If the council approves the changes, they would not go into effect for 30 days unless the council agreed to adopt them as an emergency provision, in which case the changes would go into effect immediately after the vote, officials said.