FULTON, NY – The ongoing saga that is the demolition of the former Nestle factory in Fulton is nearing completion.
Fulton Mayor Ronald Woodward Sr. said Rowlee Construction will continue work on the site with a legislative grant from Senator Patty Ritchie funneled through the DEC.
The $200,000 grant is enough to cover the asbestos removal and demolition of the only remaining building on the site, he explained.
After demolition of the building, any remaining funds will be used to clear debris from the site while some debris will be used to fill holes throughout the 24-acres that once housed Fulton’s most prominent industry.
Having received the site at 555 S. Fourth St. in 2015 on tax foreclosure, city officials have encountered several interruptions throughout the demolition process.
In October 2015, Infinity Enterprises was awarded a demolition bid after offering to complete the demolition of the former Nestle factory at no cost to the city but instead, the rights to all salvageable material on site.
Citing financial losses, Infinity then backed out of their commitment in spring of 2017, after taking down roughly 75 percent of the site’s buildings but leaving debris scattered throughout, Woodward said.
The city then awarded Rowlee Construction a bid to remove debris from the corner lot at South Fourth and Fay streets to have the 2.2 acre parcel prepared for the incoming supermarket chain, Aldi Inc. to construct a new store in Fulton.
Declaring the site an imminent danger in July 2017 due to compromised structures on site, Rowlee was then authorized to stay on site under their former contract removing debris left throughout the site.
In August 2017, a new contract determined the pay rate and timeline for demolition of the remaining buildings after Rowlee Construction again submitted the lowest responsible bid for the job.
The contract required all remaining buildings on site to be demolished by the start of 2018. However, one building remained standing with debris scattered throughout the site at the end of the anticipated timeline as the city ran out of bonded money that was being used to pay the contract.
Now, using a $200,000 Women Business Enterprises/Minority Business Enterprises grant, the contractor had to seek out a company that met the criteria for employing women and minorities to complete the asbestos removal.
Following the asbestos removal, the building will be demolished and removed by Rowlee Construction, all within the $200,000 price tag of the grant, Woodward said.
Having spent approximately $3 million in total demolition cost thus far, Mayor Woodward is happy to see the final leg of demolition get underway.
“It’s good, this is good for Fulton. Most people wouldn’t take on a project like this just because they’re going to be criticized for it but if I’m not getting criticized at my job, I’m probably not doing it. This is better for the nearby neighborhood and better for all the people of Fulton to get those buildings down,” Woodward said.
The appearance of the site once completed will help draw in other businesses to join the newly constructed Aldi store on site, Woodward believes.
Though Operation Oswego County Executive Director L. Michael Treadwell has requested to have a study completed to consider a manufacturing facility on the site, Woodward said that while he is not opposed to manufacturing on site, he wants interest from a manufacturer before constructing a new building on site.
“I don’t want a building built to then look for a manufacturer to occupy it. That’s speculative, we want to have properties that can be taxed there,” he said. “Ultimately, the authorizing body is the Fulton Common Council.”
There has been continued interest from undisclosed parties in purchasing parcels of the site and even interest from one party in a sale of the site in its entirety, he added.
If the city did not take the buildings on back taxes, regulations would still require the city to make tax payments to the school district and the county, which for a 24-acre site would be no inexpensive feat either, he added.
“Then it became- now that we took them, what do we do? We want to attract people to our city and create an area with no safety concerns like there was when the buildings were standing. It was really a no brainer, they had to come down,” Woodward said.
Three years later, the project is looking toward completion.