May 16, 2011 Ned Campbell Uncategorized
For 30 years, the dilapidated Lower Crown Mills building towered over the village of Marcellus.
Monday morning the Marcellus Village Board passed a resolution to demolish the west and north wings of the brick building, condemned by Codes Officer Bill Reagan in September. By Wednesday afternoon, the building had been dropped into its footprint by local contractor Pat Scanlon.
“Much of Marcellus history was destroyed today, making the demolition somewhat bittersweet,” Marcellus Mayor John Curtin said last Wednesday afternoon.
Before closing down in 1961, the Lower Crown Mills, built in 1878, employed a good portion of the town’s residents. One of those employees was Charles Curtin, the mayor’s grandfather, who worked as a “boss weaver” for the woolen mill. Curtin said many Irish and Scottish immigrants worked at the mill.
On Thursday morning, Scanlon dismantled the brick smokestack using a crane. The stack, which loomed over North Street, was deemed a hazard in September by Reagan, who at the time said unless the property’s owner agreed to install lightning protection, it would have to come down.
The village board was able to take swift action on the demolition only after declaring it a public emergency. At a public hearing the morning of Monday 9, Curtin said the conditions at the mill presented a “clear and imminent danger to the life, safety or health of any person or property, unless the north and west wings of the building, along with the smokestack, are demolished and removed as soon as possible.” The mill’s proximity to North Street, Nine Mile Creek, where fishermen frequent, and the school gave the village additional reason for concern. According to Reagan, the mill was broken into last week.
In September, the village issued an order of demolition to the property owner, William Lucchetti, who agreed to take up the task. Since then Lucchetti, who lives in the village of Marcellus, had partially dismantled the top two floors of the north wing, leaving the structure in perilous condition, Curtin said.
Reagan said Lucchetti told him in a recent conversation that he was unable to pay for the costs of the demolition and had asked that the expense, estimated at $110,000, be levied onto the tax rolls for the property at 71 North St.
The village board passed a resolution May 9 authorizing the issuance of $110,000 serial bonds to finance the demolition.
Village attorney Jeff Brown said following the demolition, Lucchetti will be charged. If he does not pay the invoice, it will be applied to his village property tax bill which comes out in June. If Lucchetti does not pay the tax bill in in full by October, the village taxes will go on his town and county tax bill mailed out in January 2012.
Lucchetti could not be reached for comment.
A treacherous building, past
While the Lower Crown Mills breathed life into the local economy, after its closure, things got dicey.
In 1961, ownership fell into the hands of Mitch Amidon, who would build a shopping mall that housed about half a dozen shops. According to Marcellus Historian Peg Nolan, Amidon was forced to shut down the operation in the early 1980s when he couldn’t bring the building up to fire code.
The mayor at the time was the late Fred Eisenberg, who had planned to buy the Lower Crown Mills building from Amidon. If things had gone his way, a 72-bed assisted living facility would have been built where the mills once stood. The following comes from a conversation last September with former village attorney James Dwyer:
“[Mayor] Fred Eisenberg had gone out and lined up all this grant money to do the demolition and do the environmental studies and to proceed with the construction of a 72-bed assisted living facility,” Dwyer said, adding that the mayor planned to purchase the lower mill from Amidon. “At the last moment, William Lucchetti came in and bought the same deal, as far as we know.”