SANFORD, Maine — Crews are tentatively scheduled to start demolishing the rear tower of the Stenton Trust Mill sometime next week, according to Project Manager Catherine Young of the Environmental Protection Agency.
The building was destroyed by a raging fire on June 23, 2017, and for the past two years has stood as a gutted shell behind its twin structure at 13 River St.
Earlier this month, the EPA blocked off all access to the site in preparation for the demolition, City Manager Steven Buck noted in his memo to the Sanford City Council on July 9. The EPA is responsible for the project as part of its Emergency Response and Removal Program.
“Demolition is expected to be completed by the end of September 2019,” Buck said.
Costello Dismantling of Exeter, New Hampshire, is the contractor for the demolition.
The EPA will conduct air-monitoring throughout the project in order to ensure public safety, according to Young.
The one-story structures on either side of the destroyed mill also will be torn down. Preserving those two smaller structures would be difficult because they both share a wall with the ruined tower, Young said.
According to Buck, the EPA has finished discussions with the State Historic Preservation Organization and concluded that portions of the saw-toothed roof on the property can be salvaged and stored and likely used when the site is later redeveloped. Pictures of the site have been taken to document and preserve images of the structure in the state’s archives, Buck added.
The front structure of the mill complex, which runs parallel to the ruined building, will not be torn down and is in fact under consideration for redevelopment. The EPA recently abated both the front tower and its tunnel leading to a nearby storage garage of potentially friable asbestos, according to Young. John Bucci, the asbestos coordinator for the state, has inspected and signed off on the work that has been performed, Young added.
The EPA will fully occupy the site throughout the demolition and will provide facts and updates to the city every 30 days for the duration. The agency also will release at least one additional fact sheet after the demolition is complete.
The U.S. Coast Guard will administer on-site safety inspections and control during the demolition. The Sanford Police Department will assist with increased surveillance of the site and patrols.
The entire EPA project is estimated to cost $1.9 million, according to Young.
A lot of history went up in smoke with that fire two years ago: the complex opened in 1922 and was originally where Goodall Worsted Company made its popular Palm Beach Cloth, a lightweight fabric often used in manufacturing men’s suits.
The fire was one of the biggest in Sanford’s history. More than 150 firefighters from Maine and New Hampshire needed more than 30 pieces of apparatus to battle the inferno and drew water from four hydrants and Number One Pond across the street. The 300,000-square-foot structure was so engulfed that the firefighters’ only option was to attack the flames from the outside.
Three local boys — ages 12 and 13 at the time — were arrested and charged with arson within days of the blaze. Two of them later pleaded guilty to charges of misdemeanor criminal mischief and were sentenced to a year of probation. The third boy pleaded guilty to a charge of criminal mischief.