WILTON — Selectmen voted unanimously Tuesday to negotiate a contract with Downeast Construction Corp. for the salvage/demolition of the Primary School and Wilton Tannery.
The company proposes, in each case, to purchase the land and buildings from the town for $1, demolish, remove and reclaim or recycle everything, Josh Anderson, speaking for the company, said. When finished, it would deed the property back to the town to sell and return to the tax rolls.
“We’ll take everything at no cost to the town,” he said.
With decades of construction experience, Downeast has done demolition/salvage but the Forster building is the largest project yet undertaken by this spin-off side of the business, he said.
The company has started demolition of the Depot Street plant for the owner of the property and expects to complete that work in less than a year.
Demolition of the school building is small in comparison and will be done in conjunction with the Forster building. He estimated 60 to 90 days to complete the work on the school from the time the contract is done.
“Wilton will be our biggest ally. The better we do for you reflects better on us,” Anderson said about the future of the business.
Some members of the Neighborhood Association, a group of residents around the school who have sought a solution, attended the meeting but had already met with Anderson and endorsed this option for the property.
Keith Swett submitted a letter about his plan to turn the school into housing but did not attend the meeting.
Since he wasn’t there, the three board members present, Chairman Terry Brann, Tom Saviello and Paul Gooch, voted to move ahead with a contract for demolition and future sale of the property. Gooch said he was sorry Swett wasn’t there to present his proposal.
“One way or the other, we’re going to get this back on the tax rolls. We’re going to sell it,” Saviello said.
The board has sought a solution for the property for nearly four years.
The Tannery will require a little more work to prepare for sale, Town Manager Rhonda Irish said. She has worked with the Department of Environmental Protection on Brownfield assessments of the property and removal of chemicals left in the building by the end of the summer, she said. Some were left by the tannery and some by a printing business located there afterward.
DEP provided a review Monday to look for asbestos and other materials inside the building and found a minimal amount, she said.
The construction company has certified workers on staff to deal with removal of lead or asbestos in the school and tannery, Anderson said.