Town of Montague Receives Nearly $10M in Demolition and Restoration Funds for Strathmore Mill Site

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

RE: Town of Montague to Receive $5M Earmark from the MA Department of Conservation and Recreation for Demolition and Restoration of Strathmore Mill Site in Turners Falls. Funds are in addition to a previously secured $4.9M EPA Brownfields Cleanup Grant

Revised June 24, 2024

The Town of Montague is pleased to announce the receipt of $5M in funding from the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) to address the substantial environmental and public safety risks associated with the Strathmore Mill Complex in Montague’s village of Turners Falls. This historic mill—in the preliminary stages of collapse—consists of ten buildings constructed between 1874 and 1970. The site last saw large-scale industrial use under ownership of International Paper, which ceased operations in 1994.

Following a succession of owners, the Town took possession of the property through tax title in 2010 with the hope of catalyzing its redevelopment. This proved infeasible due to significant site access issues created by its unique location at 20 Canal Road, between the Connecticut River and the Turners Falls/FirstLight Power Canal. A 2022 study, commissioned by the Town with support from MassDevelopment, determined rehabilitation of the mill was economically infeasible and that restoration of the site to a naturalized parkland use was the most suitable redevelopment option.

The source of DCR’s $5M earmark was included in the state’s 2018 state environmental bond bill - An Act Promoting Climate Change Adaptation, Environmental and Natural Resource Protection, and Investment in Recreational Assets and Opportunity. Inserted there by former State Representative Steve Kulik at the urging of Montague Town Administrator, Steve Ellis. It provided that “not less than $5,000,000 shall be expended for abatement, demolition and restoration of the Strathmore property on the Connecticut River in the town of Montague.” Notably, this award is being made just weeks after the US EPA announced Montague would receive a $4.9M Brownfields Cleanup Grant, funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

Ellis notes that “DCR’s $5M commitment, in combination with the EPA’s support, provides what we expect to be full funding of the Strathmore Mill Complex demolition project. This will enable the Town to proactively and responsibly address the substantial risks associated with an uncontrolled collapse of the mill, which is increasingly imminent. Further, it will facilitate restoration of the waterfront that lies just downstream of DCR’s Great Falls Discover Center. The Town’s redevelopment vision includes a riverfront park that will allow residents and visitors alike to connect with the Town’s rich indigenous history, its historic industrial legacy, and its unique role as a source of hydropower.”

Ellis continued, “The importance of state and federal support for municipalities dealing with that subset of historic mills that are no longer viable cannot be overstated. Left untended, the risk they pose will only grow. This collective governmental response ensures a responsible approach, avoiding the significant environmental and economic impacts of an unplanned collapse, and providing significant cost savings when compared to a post-collapse emergency response.”

"Our administration is proud to deliver $5 million to address environmental and public safety risks in Montague, and we're grateful to our local, state and federal partners for helping make this a reality. This funding will restore the Strathmore Mill site and the waterfront, ensuring that Montague residents, businesses and visitors can safely enjoy the natural beauty of the town and paving the way for further economic development." - Governor Maura Healey

The Town of Montague wishes to express its sincere appreciation to the Healey-Driscoll Administration, including the Governor’s Western Mass Regional Director, Kristen Elechko; the Department of Conservation and Recreation; State Representative Natalie Blais and Senator Jo Comerford; Senators Ed Markey and Elizabeth Warren; Congressman Jim McGovern; Montague staff; and a constellation of other local, state and federal officials who collectively supported the Town’s progression toward this moment.

Ellis suggests that “the Town’s next steps include completion of a final design and bidding for the demolition of the mill complex, with construction anticipated to begin in summer 2025.”

For more information, please contact:

Walter Ramsey

Montague Town Administrator

townadmin@montague-ma.gov

(413) 863-3200 x110