Demolition of former mill to impact traffic

Demolition of a former paper mill built in the 19th century near the center of town is expected to close traffic lanes and last into October before the city gets the land.

Work began this week on the 5 acres that housed the former Ahlstrom West Carrollton LLC, a 40,000-square-foot building at 1 S. Elm St. Ahlstrom’s decision to finance the demolition and donate the land will give local officials control over a sizable tract of land in the city center district.

The site is adjacent to about 16 acres of former Fraser Papers land the city is rehabilitating on the north side of railroad tracks and more than 47 acres south of the tracks as it acquires grant dollars, West Carrollton Economic Development Director Tom Ross has said.

The Ahlstrom demolition project will include lane closures – likely to begin next week – on both Elm and Central Avenue, said Carl Enterman, West Carrollton code enforcement officer.

The main building “pretty much sits right on the street,” he said. “So there’s safety issues that cause it to draw out where they have to be real careful on how they pull the building down so we don’t have any issues with damage to the street or anybody else.”

The “lane shifts,” Enterman said, will begin with closing “the two … eastbound lanes on Central and we’ll have one-way traffic on the westbound lanes while they start removing the buildings that are … closer to the roads.”

As the work progresses on the plant side that borders Elm, lanes on that street also will be affected in a similar fashion, he said. The main building’s proximity to the roads will prolong the project, which is expected to take two to three weeks, Enterman said.

The city will consider opening the traffic lanes at the end of each day to alleviate congestion. But that will be dependent on “structural security of the building once they finish that day. If they feel that it’s safe to go ahead and open them up, they will,” he said.

The demolition was expected to begin this summer, but was delayed by another project the contractor — Steve R. Rauch Inc. — was completing, said West Carrollton City Manager Brad Townsend. Meanwhile, Ahlstrom hired an environmental firm to address asbestos issues in the buildings, Enterman said.

Work started Monday on the property’s southern edge as crews began “removing the little individual buildings that were attached over the years,” Enterman said. Work will then move to the northern portion before finishing on the east side of the property, he said.

Discussions have included demolition occurring on weekends on a limited basis, Enterman said, but no decision has been made.

The Ahlstrom structure was built in 1896 and has housed a paper mill since, according to the city. Ahlstrom acquired the West Carrollton Parchment Co. in 2008 and employed about 90 workers before shutting down in 2012, officials said.

Townsend said he anticipates the city obtaining the land by the end of the year. Both the former Fraser site and the Ahlstrom land are zoned for Planned Unit Development, which allows for “a lot of options at this location,” Ross has said.

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