Building demolition underway
By John Fitts
COLLINSVILLE – The expected demolition of a handful of buildings in the rear of the historic Collins Co. complex is well underway.
In February of this year, the town’s fire marshal and building inspector issued orders for abatement of unsafe conditions at a handful of buildings in the historic complex.
At Collinsville, LLC, which was responsive to the orders, taking initial steps to fence off the area and subsequently securing the contractors needed for the work and obtaining a permit from the town’s Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Agency.
And while the iconic and highly visible “granite” building was among those cited, owners, working with a structural engineer, determined that building could be further secured and remain standing.
The other buildings subject to the order, however, were determined to be beyond repair.
While, there are various numbering systems for the complex, as per an April 27 application to the IWWA by the owner’s agent – Phil Doyle of Simsbury Landscape Architectural Design Associates P.C. – the buildings, about a collective 400 feet in length and a 60 feet wide, include:
• Building 21 - the 8,848 square foot “Rolling Shop”
• Building 22 - the 15,467 square-foot "Lower Forge"
• Building 23 - the 4,000 square foot “Idle Drop”
The demolition requires several steps and coordination with state and local officials and included first identification and removal of portions that contained hazardous materials. According to paperwork filed by Abatement Services, LLC West Hartford, asbestos was found in the metal window glazing and exterior siding panels of the subject buildings. Asbestos identification laboratory in Woburn, Mass. did testing on building samples.
“Abatement of the contaminated material was completed “ the week ending July 22, said Lisa Tilney on behalf Collinsville, LLC, while the contractor began building teardown on July 22.
“Work is expected to continue for another few weeks, and they are making significant progress. We are pleased to be working with the Town to resolve a public safety issue at the property,” Lisa Tilney stated via an email to The Valley Press.
Mountain Top Trucking is the general contractor for the project and USA Hauling and Recycling is also working on the project, according to paperwork filed with the town. Both are based in Winsted.
Set on approximately 19 acres along the Farmington River, the Collins Co. complex – from 1826 to the mid 1960s – was home to The Collins Company, a world-famous manufacturer of edge tools. Some in the area sometimes incorrectly think the area is abandoned but some 45 to 55 small businesses operate in several factory buildings, particularly from the center of Collinsville to the Farmington River Trail bridge.
Re-development of the site is a subject of much debate in town. In May of 2021, New York based developer Sheldon Stein proposed a mixed-use plan for the site. In August of 2021, the Canton Planning and Zoning Commission made changes in the Industrial Heritage (IH1) zone that regulates redevelopment of the complex, many of which were requested by Stein. And while Stein is no longer pursuing the project – reportedly for health reasons – those changes are the subject of an ongoing legal appeal.
Meanwhile, members of the Tilney family are working with others on a redevelopment plan, as well as funding for environmental cleanup, Doyle told the IWWA earlier this year.
GZA GeoEnvironmental, Inc. recently conducted a Phase III Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) Report for the site, funded by a Brownfield grant through the Department of Economic Community Development (DECD).
According to a draft report, soil contaminants requiring remediation include lead, arsenic, Total Petroleum Hydrocarbons (TPH) and Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs). A preliminary cost analysis in that draft estimates cleanup between $2.2 and $3.4 million.