BELDING — As dense fog that hid much of the top of the Belding clock tower from view began to dissipate Monday morning, a wave of reality that the tower and surrounding structures will soon be gone rolled over several citizens who gazed up at the original Gibson structures on the first official day of demolition.
Otisco Township resident Lynn Mason awoke Monday morning and said she couldn’t just go about her day as she normally does, knowing what will be happening on the corner of Bridge and Main Streets over the next 12 months.
“I couldn’t just stay home and do nothing,” Mason said. “It’s emotional to me and if we just sit back and do nothing, it’s like it doesn’t matter.”
Mason had spent Sunday evening creating signs with statements such as “There has to be a better way!” and “Electrolux does not care,” which she placed on the fence that surrounds the Electrolux property.
Referencing the demolition of original downtown structures that took place in the 1970s, in which the current Covered Village Mall was constructed in the buildings’ stead, Mason said she doesn’t want to see what she considers to be one of the last remaining pieces of Belding’s history torn down.
“I don’t know if anybody did any protesting back when they tore our town down in the early ’70s or not, but if you don’t say something, it’s like it doesn’t matter,” she said.
Mason said she was comforted by the fact that people were stopping to read the signs and honked their horns as they drove past in support of her messages.
“I don’t believe the signs are going to stop the bulldozers, but I’m hopeful that somebody gets a feeling in their gut when it comes to tearing down that original silk mill building.” she said. Maybe the construction guys will stop and think before they just put some dynamite to it.”
But by 5 p.m. Monday, Mason’s signs had been removed, likely ripped down as the pieces of tape used to hold the signs to the fence still remained attached to the fence.
“I’m really bothered by Electrolux, they’re not from Belding,” she said. “I’m a hometown girl who has lived here 55 years and I just wish people had been more proactive.”
The actual demolition of the buildings, which was scheduled to begin Monday, will likely not commence for a few weeks.
Interim City Manager Sam Andres said Bierlein Companies out of Midland, which has been contracted by Golder Associates to perform the demolition, has an entire year to carry out the demolition.
“It’s going to take 12 months, that’s all we know,” Andres said. “The demolition is now between Electrolux and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ). They must follow everything that is listed in the consent judgment.”
The consent judgment, outlining the demolition and potential future use of the Electrolux property, between Electrolux and the city, was agreed upon by both parties and signed by a judge. Ionia County’s 8th Judicial Circuit Court shall retain jurisdiction over the judgment and enforce the terms of the easement and judgment.
During the 12-month period, the project will be completed Monday through Friday of each week from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., with contractor hours limited to 40 hours per week.
Throughout demolition, work shall be conducted in such a manner as not to involve excessive noise, dust, track-out on roads, vibration, refuse, uncontrolled traffic congestion, or other circumstances which may create a public nuisance.
Water spray shall be applied during demolition activities for dust suppression.
However, as outlined in the demolition permit approved by the city, environmental decommissioning must be performed before any demolition can actually take place.
According to the scope of work as agreed between Golder Associates and the city of Belding, environmental decommissioning will consist of abatement of asbestos contained materials, decommissioning of piping and utilities, including electric, gas, water and sewer, and transport and disposal of all related waste streams.
Cleaning of surfaces, such as floors, shallow trenches, pits, and basements, must also be completed. This includes cleaning of areas after interior demolition work is completed.
Decontamination of building surfaces (walls, beams, columns, etc.) to remove residues and accumulations of regulated materials must also be completed.
The time frame for completion of the environmental decommissioning is not listed within the scope of work.
The second phase following the decommissioning, is the actual demolition.
The demolition phase will consist of demolition of the site structures and other ancillary features, disconnection, capping and abandonment of designed utilities and transport and disposal or recycling of all related waste streams.
According to the scope of work listed in the demolition permit, the demolition of the buildings down to their base slabs will be done so with “non-explosive” techniques. This includes complete removal of materials present within, or as part of, the building structures.
The demolition of all buildings and structures (including the smoke stack) on the Electrolux Property shall proceed in accordance with the terms and conditions of the demolition permit and the terms and conditions of the consent judgment.
According to the consent judgment, the demolition will be carried out meeting standards set forth by the MDEQ, as it reads: “Electrolux shall, in a timely manner, actively and diligently perform all activities lawfully required by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality on the Electrolux property.”
Backfill and site restoration
The final stage will consists of backfill and site restoration, which will include backfilling of depressions and excavations resulting from site work, as well as final filling and grading and site cleanup and restoration.
According to the consent judgment, any materials from the demolition shall be removed from the Electrolux property, and shall not be used as fill thereon.
Once backfill and restoration is completed, the existing fence will be relocated to the inside edge of the sidewalk along Main and Bridge streets.
Listed as an alternate scope item within the scope of work document, is the placement of fill material and seeding.
According to the document, a minimum of one foot of clean fill material and 6 inches of topsoil will be placed across the site and qualitatively compacted and shaped to match existing grade.
The disturbed area shall then be seeded with a perennial grass mixture in accordance with state requirements for vegetative erosion control. Cultivation of seeding will be the responsibility of the contractor as are erosion control measures until the site is vegetatively stabilized.
Throughout the entire 12-month period, Electrolux must comply with all city ordinances and regulations not inconsistent with the terms of the easement and this consent judgment.
Once the demolition is completed, at latest on March 11, 2014, an easement on the Electrolux property will allow the city to eventually construct a park on the property.
Electrolux has made a one-time contribution of $75,000 to the city of Belding to be expended by the city for the sole purpose of helping to defray the cost of designing and establishing a public park on the easement property.
Electrolux also make a one-time contribution of $50,000 to the Grand Rapids Community Foundation for the creation of an endowment to be used solely for the maintenance of the public park on the easement property.
The consent judgment also allows the city to reassemble the clock tower or reconstruct a replica clock tower on the site, however, a suitable environmentally safe location on the site would have to be located.