RUMFORD — Three selectmen, Town Manager Carlo Puiia and members of the Economic Development Committee spent about 90 minutes at Tuesday night’s workshop developing strategies to best market Rumford to commercial developers.

Much of the time was spent deciding what to do about the Gateway Parcel, the three-story tax-acquired building and lot at 438 Waldo St. It’s across the street from Hannaford supermarket.

Puiia outlined his work to gather information from three asbestos-abatement firms to then create a request for proposal to remove 3,300 square feet of asbestos from the Waldo Street building, prior to then having the Public Works crew demolish it.

Committee Chairman Phil Blampied suggested that the work be completed by Oct. 31; Selectman Jeremy Volkernick said the work could be done within a week.

“No, I don’t want that,” Volkernick told Blampied. “I want the asbestos removed within eight days.”

He said he’d talked with asbestos abatement people and learned that the work could be done rather quickly. Mercury also needs to be removed.

“If you can get the asbestos out and the mercury, what I want is 90 days to have the job completed, everything, the asbestos, the mercury, the building demolished and leveled within 90 days. Can it be done?” Volkernick asked. “Yes, it can be done, but we have to be aggressive.”

Without saying who, Volkernick hinted several times at knowing someone interested in looking at the property, which is just over an acre.

It’s called the Gateway Parcel, because it’s opposite the Hannaford grocery store and sited on Route 2 as the road enters Rumford from Mexico, passing between athletic fields.

Blampied said that according to a Maine Department of Transportation study, 11,000 vehicles travel through there daily.

“We’re going to invest money in this lot that’s been kicked around for a couple of years now?” Selectman Greg Buccina asked.

“And it’s going to be an investment taking this thing down, and I think we talked about the value and getting (Public Works) training in. This lot is getting quite a bit of notoriety. What are we going to get out of this job?”

“There’s a potential franchise business,” Volkernick said. “You’ve got to take these chances. I want that lot available for when I bring somebody into town.”

“Is taking down this one building going to give enough space for a franchise quote business?” Selectman Jeff Sterling asked.

“No,” Blampied said.

“Wait a minute,” Sterling said. “Should we be thinking about going in (to the block) and wiping out what we can? It’s my feeling that it’s going to be very difficult to get everybody on that parcel with what’s around it.”

He was referring to other multi-family buildings along Waldo Street.

Rather than try to pursue getting other buildings behind the 438 Waldo St. lot, of which the town owns one other tax-acquired structure, or making plans to demolish the second building, Volkernick reined in his “Let’s get aggressive” speech.

“We don’t want to go all gung-ho into this,” he said. “We need to ease into what we’re doing right now with this building.”

After more discussion, the group agreed to have Puiia ask whichever asbestos abatement firm wins the project bid to also evaluate the second building for asbestos and removal.

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