The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has revised the timeline for demolition of the Stenton Trust mill project in Sanford. COURTESY IMAGE

SANFORD — The timeline for asbestos removal from the Stenton Trust mill in Sanford and the demolition of the burned out rear tower has been revised by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

At the same time, the city is looking ahead to a time when the front tower that faces River Street may be ready for development.

The EPA was in Sanford a week ago to update residents on the timeline for dealing with the mill.

The rear tower burned in a massive fire on June 23, 2017. The fire was of such magnitude that it took the resources of 100 firefighters from Sanford and surrounding departments and 700,000 gallons of water to extinguish.

Those driving or walking by the mill at 13 Rriver St. will soon notice the arrival of a work trailer, equipment and fencing sometime this month or in early November, according to EPA officials. Abestos removal is to take place in the front tower and the one-story, saw-tooth roof building just behind it during the fall and winter.

Sanford City Manager Steve Buck said the EPA plans to begin a structural assessment of the rear tower and development of demolition plan starting in October, with a view for demolition in the spring of 2019, beginning in March and projected to wind down in June.

Air monitoring will be conducted continuously during working hours throughout the demolition process, including air sampling for asbestos, according to information provided by the EPA’s Catherine Young, who is listed as the EPA’s on-scene coordinator.

The project is expected to take nine to 10 months to complete.

Buck, in a review of the plan on Tuesday, said once the EPA has completed the demolition, the city will use grant funds to identify any remaining environmental impediments and a remediation plan will be developed.

He said the city plans to obtain ownership of a portion of the site from the current owner of record, Jonathan Morse of Reno, Nevada, who is listed as the owner of Gateway Properties LLC, the now-defunct company that bought the mill from the Stenton Trust in 1999.

The city and the Sanford Regional Economic Growth Council are working with a company that has a track record of successful development of complex mill projects and is in the process is drafting a letter of intent that takes the environmental plan into account,Buck said.

The redevelopment is focused on the mixed use of commercial development and workforce housing to address Sanford’s growing needs, he said.

Councilor John Tuttle again expressed reservations about the front tower.

“I’m in favor of the demolition, but people are asking me what will happen to the front mill. They think it is a public safety hazard,” said Tuttle. “I really have concern about the front mill.”

The mill was built in 1922 as part of the Goodall textile empire. Once the mills were sold and later closed in the mid-1950s, portions of the facility were used for various industrial ventures over the years. It has been vacant for nearly a decade. Gateway Properties LLC is more than $110,000 in arrears on property taxes, according to Sanford tax records.

Sanford has been in a position at various times over the years to seize the property for back taxes but has always waived foreclosure, a move municipalities sometimes take when there are potential environmental issues.

Three 12- and 13-year-old boys were originally charged with arson in connection with last year’s mill fire. They pleaded guilty to criminal mischief and were placed on probation for a year.

— Senior Staff Writer Tammy Wells can be contacted at 780-9016 or [email protected]

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