On the agenda for tonight at Berlin City Council: Economic Development/Promoting Berlin Discussion.
Councilors will be discussing what the city can do to better promote itself. I hope that is a discussion that continues throughout the city. It isn’t something that should just be happening at city hall; the ramifications continue down Main Street, out Route 110, and throughout Coös County.
Hopefully that discussion will spark more of them, and marketing can become the thing residents rally around.
I was discussing marketing today with someone, trying to get some background on Laidlaw, and they pointed out that, from a marketing perspective, an abandoned stack in the middle of town is probably worse than a biomass facility. Who will come up with the money to tear down that stack if it isn’t used? I’m meeting with Mayor David Bertrand in half an hour to ask that question. Laidlaw has become an issue that divides this city, when it needs more than ever to be united. I’d like to find some answers to those questions, to poke holes in all sides of the debate. I can’t see the city spending money to demolish the stack, so how will it ever get better? A tweeter told me Dover declared their stack historic and stuck cell phone antennas on it. Honestly, its the only idea I’ve heard, so right now it sounds like a good one.
I’m coming into this debate, as I said last night, like the last one to a busted up party. But I still think there is a discussion worth having that does not see eye to eye with either side.
Is Laidlaw good? In the sense that it would provide jobs and do something with that stack, yes. Is the company bad, as some insist? I don’t know. I will be looking into that in the near future.
But what about Berlin? What does it do? A couple weeks ago Councilor Ryan Landry said if Laidlaw doesn’t build there someone else will. Likely true. Will it turn off tourists? Councilor Tim Cayer is working to bring ATVers here with a hunk of junk on the mill site. Are they turning away because of the stack? The ones I spoke to at Jericho didn’t care, but of course they are the ones that came. It is hard to determine what the real ramifications of the city’s decisions will be.
I guess that’s my question: If not a biomass facility, then what? Forget Laidlaw. Who will take down that relic? Who is going to pay for it? What is the better alternative?
The city is getting serious about its image, it seems. What will that image be? Councilor David Poulin had the great idea to get the stacks off the city seal. Who is proposing getting the stacks out of the city? How are they going to do it? Who is going to pay for it? Isn’t Clean Power building stacks instead of erasing them? What is this fascination with the old mill site and where has it gotten the city? It’s like an ex-wife the city can’t get over, can’t seem to escape the memories of.
I intend to find some answers, but I’m interested in your response. Laidlaw is just a symptom. I’ll find out about it, but that still doesn’t deal with the pink elephant in the room. Or is it a gray boiler? Whatever.
3 thoughts on “Tonight’s Meeting”
Erik, Other biomass developers already looked at the Burgess stack and boiler. The investors who own the land surely know the land is worth more the minute the boiler and stack fall. These owners have experience in brownfields. The money to demolish includes gain in dismantling as well. Don't you worry about finding anyone to tear it down as that would be a given. Jon Edwards
I seem to remember it being said that Clean Power would have it torn down by the company building their project. They would buy the land, tear it down and aid in redeveloping the parcel for the city, with heat and electricity from their plant.Check with them.
Clean Power's proposal does not provide a perception of an industrial area but rather an agricultural area with it's barnlike appearance which is a big difference from a towering 300 foot stack and massive steel boiler directly in the middle of the city. Clean Power's plant is appropriately positioned next to a waster water treatment plant which is a highest and best use for placement of a biomass facility as nothing else is likely to land in that location, it provides synergies to Fraser and uses synergies of waste water from the treatment facility. It's location is also tucked away from the area's population. It will not impact the city as negatively as pertains to noise as its location is far enough away from the area's population for it not to be heard as much, and truck deliveries do not need to made at night because it is a smaller plant design based on expert wood studies pertinent to sustainability of the area's wood resource.Laidlaw's 300 foot stack and boiler is at the most highly exposed entrance to a 120 acre parcel directly in the middle of the city. It's potential to redefine the city is immense. Without the stack and boiler degrading it appearance the possibilities are endless. Though it's appearance could be changed to look like Clean Power's or some other more appealing entrance to the lot to entice others to overlook it, other issues remain. The size of the boiler will require around the clock noise from truck deliveries in the middle of the city, back up beeper noise from trucks as they dump tens of thousands of loads of chips a year. Also, due to the lay of the land surrounding the city, it's population is potentially at risk to health issues with downdrafts in its valley location which was a health concern that was central to Laidlaw's Ellicottville NY court case, and many residential neighborhoods are set high on the hills surrounding the city exposing property owners to health further health hazards as a result of their close proximity to the top of the stack.Additionally the proposal threatens wood sustainability and the closure of currently operating wood commodity businesses as a result of chip price increase. You may also want to check with Whitefield power and light to see what impact Laidlaw would have on their operation as just one example as they have needed to shut down already on occassion due to supply issues.Like the brownfield site at Pease Airforce base the Burgess mill site can be redeveloped in a way far more suitable to the surrounding mountain ranges that offer so much to outdoor enthusiasts. We need to offer an attractive place for people to want to come to, change our attitudes to project a postive perception and begin marketing the area as a New Berlin based on the old heritage that got us to where we're at, and they will come here. The current officers of the LLC that owns the Burgess mill site, Greg Whalen and Richard Cyr, know what to do with brownfields and know how to market.Jon Edwards