Demolition begins on former city incinerator

Demolition begins on former city incinerator

City officials look on as J.R. Vinagro Corp. begins demolition on the former incinerator on Cumberland Hill Road in Woonsocket. (Breeze photo by Sandy Seoane)

WOONSOCKET – A hulking brick building Mayor Lisa Baldelli-Hunt once called the “poster child” for blight in Woonsocket started coming down this week, as demolition crews tore at the structure that once held the city’s trash incinerator.

Contractor J.R. Vinagro Corp. of Johnston, one of four companies to submit bids for the demolition of 25 Cumberland Hill Road, will complete the project for $158,527, according to a bid submitted to the city in April.

The building was constructed in the early 1960’s, but it has been several decades since it has served its intended use. The incinerator was shut down once the city began use of a former landfill on Davison Street, and that trash disposal system was discontinued when the city began trucking waste to a facility in Johnston.

For years, the building, a two-story structure situated next to Woonsocket Fire Department headquarters, was used by the Woonsocket Water Department for offices and equipment storage.

But in 2016, a study by C & E Engineering identified the presence of environmental contamination. Citing environmental and safety concerns, Baldelli-Hunt became an advocate for its eventual destruction.

The building sits on an 18-acre site that historically appears to have always been owned by the city, with a title trace dating back to the 1900s. According to the C & E study, a fire station may have been the first building built on the lot around 1900.

Additional buildings on the property are part of the city’s wastewater treatment plant and were built between 1963 and 2001.

Work on the 2.5-acre portion holding the former incinerator began last week, with hazardous material, including asbestos, removed from the structure. On Monday, Sept. 11, Vinagro brought in the heavy equipment and started to take down the longstanding city eyesore before a gathered group of city officials including the mayor, along with Waste Supt. Michael Debroisse and Public Works Director Steven D’Agostino.

Demolition is expected to be completed in around two weeks, with only a concrete slab to remain. Officials haven’t commented on future plans for the property.