Former International Paper Mill in Erving nearing RFP deadline again

Inside of the former International Paper mill.

Inside of the former International Paper mill. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/LIESEL NYGARD

Old pump house at the former International Paper mill

Old pump house at the former International Paper mill CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/LIESEL NYGARD

The former International Paper mill.

The former International Paper mill. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/LIESEL NYGARD

Inside of the former International Paper mill.

Inside of the former International Paper mill. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/LIESEL NYGARD

The former International Paper mill.

The former International Paper mill. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/LIESEL NYGARD

The former International Paper mill in Erving, which closed in 2000.

The former International Paper mill in Erving, which closed in 2000. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/LIESEL NYGARD

Inside of the former International Paper mill.

Inside of the former International Paper mill. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/LIESEL NYGARD

Inside of the former International Paper mill.

Inside of the former International Paper mill. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/LIESEL NYGARD

The former International Paper mill.

The former International Paper mill. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/LIESEL NYGARD

Inside the former International Paper mill, which has been closed since 2000. Three attempted Requests for Proposals to redevelop the site have seen no results. 

Inside the former International Paper mill, which has been closed since 2000. Three attempted Requests for Proposals to redevelop the site have seen no results.  CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/LIESEL NYGARD

Inside of the former International Paper mill.

Inside of the former International Paper mill. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/LIESEL NYGARD

The former International Paper mill.

The former International Paper mill. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/LIESEL NYGARD

Inside of the former International Paper mill.

Inside of the former International Paper mill. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/LIESEL NYGARD

Inside of the former International Paper mill.

Inside of the former International Paper mill. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/LIESEL NYGARD

The former International Paper mill.

The former International Paper mill. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/LIESEL NYGARD

Pump station at the former International Paper mill that was built in 2021.

Pump station at the former International Paper mill that was built in 2021. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/LIESEL NYGARD

Erving’s former International Paper mill may be demolished if a third Request for Proposals doesn’t lead to any offers. 

Erving’s former International Paper mill may be demolished if a third Request for Proposals doesn’t lead to any offers.  CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/LIESEL NYGARD

By LIESEL NYGARD

For The Athol Daily News

Published: 02-23-2024 5:01 PM

ERVING — The former International Paper mill’s third Request For Proposal (RFP) is nearing its deadline, and there’s yet to be interest, while demolition is “on the table,” according to Town Planner Mariah Kurtz.

The $1.49 million property at 8 Papermill Road was built on in 1902 and now consists of eight buildings constructed over the years, until it closed in 2000. A developer purchased the land from International Paper, then stripped the interior of the buildings, after which it has sat unused, according to Kurtz. 

The new owner didn’t pay taxes, which allowed the Town of Erving to seize the land in 2014. Since then, the town has conducted feasibility studies and evaluations before posting a formal Request for Interest (RFI) in fall 2021.

Since 2022, three RFPs have been submitted. The first received no proposals. The second RFP was released last August, and Kurtz said there was one response during that time, “but it didn’t meet the minimum requirements so it was rejected.” The third RFP’s deadline is March 21, and so far there’s been no offers.

“Over the last year nothing has changed,” said Kurtz. “We’ve put it out multiple times just to get interest and had some developers express interest and so we released them again ... If no one submits anything, then we’re in the same position that we’re in now...”

Kurtz said this would involve further discussion between the Selectboard and Finance and Capital Planning committees.

If nobody wants the property, then demolition is a possibility, said Kurtz. Last April, Erving residents showed support at a public discussion for a $3.7 million override paired with a $600,000 Site Readiness grant from MassDevelopment that would fund a near-full demolition of the vacant complex. 

If Erving decides to move forward with the proposed override, residents would see an increase of $2.45 per $1,000 valuations in their tax rate for one year, while the commercial tax rate would increase by $4.03 per $1,000 valuation. This funding option would minimize the payment window and avoid drawing from Erving’s capital stabilization fund.

Article continues after...

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The funding and demolishing of the mill would first have to be approved at a Town Meeting. The project could take roughly a year to complete, according Kurtz.

Concerns over the property’s safety, insurance and development potential have been some of the reasons for making demolition a priority.

In 2020, Erving conducted remediation of asbestos and other hazardous materials through MassDevelopment’s Brownfields Site Cleanup program, according to the Town of Erving’s RFP document. The town invested about $85,000, while MassDevelopment provided $200,000 in a recoverable loan for the project, which was focused on the removal and abatement of transformers and asbestos.

According to a February 2021 hazardous building materials assessment, asbestos was found throughout some of the floors, walls and window frames of the mill. Kurtz said the building’s roof has not been tested yet because the town wants to wait until a definite plan is put in place before they “begin poking holes” in the roof’s material.

A pump station to service the property and retrofit of the force sewer main to convey wastewater from the site was also constructed in 2021, after Erving secured $500,000 in MassWorks funding for the design, permitting and construction, the document read. The previous equipment was abandoned and went without maintenance for over two decades and was sized for the waste volume of a paper mill. Future improvements can be made to support the mill as a mixed-use building.

The building sits on 42.26 acres of land alongside the Millers River, near Route 2, Route 63 and Interstate 91. The total project area equates to roughly six acres.

Throughout the years, the building has been broken into and vandalized. In the first building, there are reports of water and fire damage.

Over the 98 years that the mill was running, buildings were added on, making some sections newer than others. Some of the buildings have more levels than others — subsections of Building 6 hold three stories, while subsections of Building 4 are one story.

Of all eight buildings, Kurtz said she’s in favor of keeping the old pump house that’s separate from the mill, located near the back of the building.

“It actually goes all the way down to the river,” said Kurtz. “That is one of the buildings that I have proposed that even if we do full demolition that we keep ... you’d never be able to rebuild it. It’s practically in the river. I think that it’s small enough that if the developer wanted to reuse it, it wouldn’t be too expensive to rehab it.”