Officials, contractors do “walk through” on Pelzer Mills cleanup site

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By Stan Welch
Efforts to advance the redevelopment of the Pelzer Mill sites have gained traction on several fronts recently. During the same week that the town council adopted an agreement with Anderson County for twenty four hours of targeted police presence each week, members of the Pelzer Heritage Commission (PHC) hosted EPA and DHEC officials on a walk through of various cleanup sites.
Those sites included pockets of asbestos and lead based paint that will have to be removed, including the old office building. A number of qualified EPA approved contractors were on hand, and will submit bids for the cleanup by April 11. “Once we have those bids, we’ll have a much clearer picture of where we are headed and what the actual costs will be.”
A $250,000 grant has been approved for cleanup efforts at the lower site, with additional funding for the office building. “Hopefully, the bids may be low enough to leave some funding for moving some dirt at the site.”
Pelzer Heritage Commission Spokesperson Larry Coker stressed that earlier environmental assessments conducted on the sites insured that the EPA inspectors found no surprises. “We all knew what to expect, because of previous studies done. The PHC, for example, paid for the office building assessment ourselves. That assessment cost approximately two thousand dollars.”
Both Coker and State Investors representative Richard Greer stressed the importance of the town council’s role in approving the law enforcement arrangement. “We have a major investor who is very interested in the site, and whose presence in the area would be an absolute game changer. There is no doubt that the lack of a proactive law enforcement presence has been a sticking point, so the town council’s actions are a welcome development,” said Greer, whose company also has proposed projects in the Piedmont and Williamston areas as well.
The phrase ‘ game changer’ is frequently, almost persistently, used to describe the potential impact if the potential investor in fact makes the decision to come to Pelzer. While neither Greer, PHC officials or town council members will name the possible investor, it is common knowledge that a brewery is considering a retail location, as well as a possible outdoors venue for concerts and other events. Clearly, such a presence and such a use of the lower mill property would indeed be a complete change for the old mill town.