by Dennis Dalman
Plans to begin demolition of the Verso paper mill site have been put on hold until the City of Sartell receives advice from technical consultants and pertinent agencies.
At the July 8 Sartell City Council meeting, members voted unanimously to delay the start-up of demolition. American Iron and Metal Development, based in Montreal, Canada, bought the site after an explosion and fire on May 28, 2012 caused its owners to cease production. AIM requested the council approve an interim-use permit so it can begin demolition. There are 66 acres on that site.
Earlier this summer, AIM held a public auction during which thousands of items ranging from small to huge were sold to the highest bidders. That process was a preparation for the demolition.
The council will almost certainly approve an interim permit once the city receives assurances from consultants and agencies that all the ducks are in a row.
In documents provided to the city, AIM spelled out what it plans to do. Phase I of the demolition will involve disassembling, crushing and removing facilities north of Sartell Street and west of the railroad tracks that run parallel to Benton Drive. All will be removed except for a freestanding office building, the hydro-electric operations building and a warehouse. Later, buildings on the rest of the site will be removed.
AIM said 95 percent of the wreckage will be recyclable.
The demolition will take 15 months to complete. Operations will run from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily, seven days a week, and all of the demolished materials will be moved off the site via trucks and train. About 25 trucks will leave the site every day with rubbish that will be shipped outside of Sartell, mostly to recycling firms.
The AIM document states noise and vibration at the site will be no louder than when the Verso plant was in operation.
AIM’s Phase II is a redevelopment and repurposing plan for the site. The company has committed itself to helping fund and to participate in a new plan for the site. AIM will join discussions with all pertinent agencies, such as the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, and with city consultants to set in place a window of opportunity for a new use for the site.