Why isn’t town 1st on biorefinery list?


RUMFORD – Selectmen want to know why the area is not first on a list for possible construction of a $45 million biorefinery plant.

At Thursday’s board meeting, Selectman Mark Belanger asked what actions the board could take to ensure that such a plant would be built locally if it should become a reality.

“We could fight for it,” he said.

Board Chairman Jim Rinaldo said it would be a slap in the face if the plant is not relocated in the River Valley.

At issue is a plan by the Fractionation Development Center in the River Valley Technology Center in downtown Rumford to find a site for a plant that would produce oil from wood. The plant would need about 900 tons of wood a day and experienced forestry workers. About 60 jobs would be created.

Center director Scott Christianson said last week that he is looking at nine sites scattered around the state for locating the first of what many believe would be several such biorefineries. Although Rumford is on that list of nine, there are no guarantees that the center and its technical partner would choose it.

Selectman Greg Buccina, who sat on the River Valley Growth Council board at the time the fractionation center was spun off several years ago, said Rumford was supposed to get the first biorefinery.

“The understanding was to set up a pilot program with a small plant, then build a larger one in our area,” he said.

Resident Len Greaney, who said he has read the center’s 162-page report, suggested that the board review the plan.

“You don’t want to be surprised,” he said.

Rinaldo suggested that Greaney and the board devise questions for the center, then a meeting would be set up with representatives from the center to discuss the issue.

In other matters on Thursday, the board:

• authorized Rumford fire Chief John Woulfe and Code Enforcement Officer Rick Kent to develop a policy that would govern how abandoned buildings can be safely secured. Woulfe said 25 such buildings exist in town, and although he knows of no occupancy by the homeless, he is aware that some people party in some of them, posing a danger to themselves and to firefighters who may have to respond to a blaze;

• agreed to invite downtown businesses to the Feb. 15 meeting to discuss the two-hour parking limit in the Congress Street area and whether a parking monitor is needed; and

• approved a streetlight for a section of Wyman Hill Road where Jim Cottrill and his family live.