GLEN PARK — A group of Black River enthusiasts fear the demolition of the Remington paper mill is imminent and could begin as early as this week.
In March, part of the limestone wall collapsed into the Black River. The property, on Route 12E and County Road 190, is owned by National Grid.
Steve Massaro, a Black River expert, said on Sunday he learned National Grid was preparing to demolish the remaining wall and Remington ruins and haul them to a landfill.
Mr. Massaro is part of a five-member group, The Watertown Islands Project, dedicated to the redevelopment of Sewall’s Island and other properties along the Black River.
National Grid thinks the wall is a liability and must come down, according to Mr Massaro. Society wants all remnants gone, Mr. Massaro said.
Although it’s probably too late to save the ruins from demolition, the group hopes to salvage the thousands of limestone blocks for reuse in redevelopment projects, possibly on the Isle of Sewall.
The limestone was mined from the Black River Valley and would be expensive to buy today, Mr Massaro said.
“It’s very valuable,” said fellow band member Larry Gordon, who lives in San Francisco but remains interested in the river. “It’s unique and distinct. Maybe it can be used in new builds.
Another member of the group, Tom Walker Jr., was passing Remington’s remains on Thursday afternoon when he noticed trees had been felled and an excavator was at the site.
He contacted Mr. Massaro, who began phoning National Grid and the state Department of Environmental Conservation about the situation.
He was told that all demolition requirements were U.S. Army Corps of Engineers approval and work would continue.
But the group hopes to store the remains – hewn blocks, arches and other architectural design elements – of the structure for preservation, Mr Massaro said.
Although the remains are located outside of town, Mr. Massaro contacted the city’s planning department about the group’s concerns.
He and Jason White, chair of the Advantage Watertown committee, are members of the Local Waterfront Revitalization Program Advisory Group, a municipal task force examining how to better utilize the Black River.
Mr. Massaro sent a letter to the planning department and members of the revitalization advisory group informing them of what is happening and recommended that the remains be saved.
“We also believe that the symbolic value of reusing these indigenous stones for use in new building designs (facades, arches, foundations, walls, etc.) would greatly contribute to civic pride,” he wrote. .
Mr. White said the Remington paper mill was one of the last that CR Remington & Sons Paper Co. developed along the river. He described the Remingtons as a prominent Watertown family.
The mill was completed on January 1, 1889, according to Watertown Daily Times records. It produced wood pulp using the power of eight water wheels. Two years later, while operations were halted for repairs, high water nearly destroyed the building – the roof collapsed, crushing two employees and killing one. The Times article covering the March 1, 1891 collapse described the site as an “abode of destruction” – with machinery “somewhere in the stormy waters of the Black River” and the roof strewn over the remaining structures “like s he was trying to cover up evidence of the terrible devastation.
Repairs were made, but the mill then closed after a fire in 1927.
National Grid spokesman Jared Paventi could not be reached for comment on Sunday.
In May, Mr Paventi said the energy company had “assessed the condition of the former Remington plant and assessed options to mitigate further impacts on the Black River”.
He confirmed that National Grid had submitted a plan to DEC and the Army Corps and that the company was awaiting approval from both departments before proceeding with cleanup efforts. He declined to comment further at the time.