One of the town’s biggest eyesores, and safety hazards, will move one step closer to demolition next week.
The 19 Elm St. property is Tax Map 29, Lot 28 and is PID #10540. It encompasses 1.69 acres with a 34,000-square-foot building and is zoned MHDR or Medium High Density Residential. It abuts residential areas and is in the vicinity of Hood Park and Hood Pond.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will begin a cleanup of the site, which contains both hazardous and unknown chemicals, within a week. The EPA will conduct a walk-through with its contractor, followed by removal of the chemicals.
Derry Environmental Engineer Craig Durette said that the actual mobilization by the EPA will begin the week of May 9. The agency will bring in supplies for the waste removal and a storage trailer, he said. The removal of the chemicals will be done the week of May 16, he said.
Durette said the site, which has been used several times as a factory, contains a “significant amount” of chemicals used by whoever the tenants were at the time.
Some of the chemicals are not labeled, Durette said, adding, “They need to be careful. We don’t know what this is. We can’t take chances.”
The procedure calls for identifying and packing up the chemicals, sending them out for testing, storing them on-site until the tests come back, and then moving them off-site for permanent disposal, Durette said.
“We anticipate that by the end of the week of the 16th, we will have everything off-site,” he said.
The EPA workers will wear hazmat suits and other protective clothing.
The town’s plan is to demolish the building, which is also a fire hazard, and then decide what to do with the property. It was deeded to the town for nonpayment of taxes.
The building was built in 1901 as the Emmerson Shoe Factory and operated as such until 1939, when it became the Klev-Bro Shoe Company and finally the Jodi Shoe Company until it closed in the 1970s. It continued its industrial usage as Fishercraft and New Hampshire Marble and Fiberglas.
The town acquired the property in June 2015. Upon inspection, the town discovered the abandoned chemicals and brought in the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (DES), which later contacted the EPA.
Other issues include code violations, a faulty sprinkler system and major structural problems identified by the Code Enforcement Officer and Fire Prevention.
Possible future uses of the property discussed by the Town Council include keeping it and creating a park, or selling it. The estimated sale value is $75,000 to $100,000, and the back taxes owed are $107,774. The current valuation is $266,000, and could be up to $500,000 with improvements, town officials said earlier this year.
The EPA is cleaning up the site at their cost under the Superfund program, Durette said.