Bates Mill No. 5 in Lewiston, with its black saw-toothed roof, is pictured in August 2019. A $1 million federal grant announced Friday will go toward removing contaminants from the roof and replacing it. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal file photo

LEWISTON — Efforts to clean up Bates Mill No. 5 and revitalize the massive building got a boost Friday in the form of $1 million in the federal government.

U.S. Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King, along with Rep. Jared Golden, announced in a joint release that the money was included in a budget bill that passed both houses of Congress and is expected to be signed into law by the president in the coming days.

The funding will help pay for removing asbestos and other contaminants from the Bates Mill No. 5 roof and replacing it, according to the release. The work represents some of the final hurdles to the city’s completion of its responsibilities to the site.

“Prominently situated at one of the gateways to Lewiston, Bates Mill #5 is an integral part of the city’s past and has the potential to be a key part of the city’s bright future,” Collins said in the release. “This investment will pave the way for the revitalization of this historic building so that it will once again serve as a hub for jobs and economic opportunities.”

Last year, the city inked a new deal with developer Tom Platz for the purchase and redevelopment of the former mill.

The five-year option agreement set new parameters between the city and Platz, who has found success in redeveloping the rest of the Bates Mill complex. An earlier grant the city received for cleanup at the site required the city to own the property while the work takes place.


Lincoln Jeffers, Lewiston’s director of economic and community development, said the $1 million will supplement funds the city already secured to clean up the site — although it will not see them all the way through to the end of the project.

“This gets us much further down the path,” Jeffers said, “but further financing will be needed to complete the cleanup.”

Jeffers said the city will apply for more Environmental Protection Agency grants this summer.

The city took over the building in 1992, and for decades there have been discussions on whether to redevelop or demolish the site. It was ultimately decided that redevelopment made the best economic sense.

“The Bates Mill complex is an important part of Lewiston’s history, and we believe it will continue to play a major role in the city’s future,” King said in the news release. “This $1 million federal investment will help address environmental hazards at the Bates Mill #5 building, clearing the way for the site’s redevelopment and years of continued productivity in the future. These funds will create exciting new economic opportunities that strengthen the Lewiston community and create good jobs for the region.”

City officials have said that regardless of whether the mill is redeveloped or demolished, the environmental issues in the mill need to be mitigated.

The textile mill was opened in 1850, and at one time employed some 5,000 people on three shifts. It closed in 1992 and the building handed over to the city for back taxes.

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