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January 29, 2014

Owner of burned mill asks for more time for demolition

Scrap metal could pay to rip down gutted Merrimac Paper Co. building

LAWRENCE — The burned out remains of the Merrimac Paper Co. are unsafe, unsightly and toxic. A lawyer for the building owner David Padellaro yesterday said his client realizes this, but needs a month to work out demolition plans.

“All we are asking is for 30 days for the safe and secure demolition of the property,” said Methuen attorney Sal Tabit, who Padellaro retained Monday to represent him at a housing court hearing yesterday.

Susan Trippi, clerk magistrate for the Northeast Housing Court, presided over the 10:30 a.m. hearing yesterday to determine if there’s probable cause to issue a criminal complaint against Padellaro to tear down Merrimack Paper Co. at 9 So. Canal St. gutted by fire Jan. 13.

Trippi took the matter under advisement and could issue her decision on the criminal complaint by late this week. The Northeast Housing Court is on the second floor of the Fenton Judicial Center — the same building that houses Lawrence District Court.

In brief remarks, Raymond Hileman, a city code enforcement inspector, said the mill buildings are compromised, unsafe and need to be torn down. Tabit agreed.

“The place is unsafe. There is no question about it,” Tabit said.

But Tabit said the city told Padellaro, 50, of Seabrook, N.H., to demolish the mill two days after the fire. His client needs additional time to make plans, he said.

Trippi asked if Padellaro has the money for the job. “Can he actually accomplish this?” she said.

Tabit said the mill is steel frame and could reap between $150,000 to $175,000 in scrap metal value. Padellaro may be able to leverage the $10,000 in demolition costs in exchange for scrap metal value, Tabit said.

A contractor “could do the work in exchange for the value of the scrap metal,” Tabit said.

Padellaro, a former Lawrence police officer fired in 1998 for misconduct, owed the city $5.4 million in unpaid property taxes, sewer and water bills, fire watch fees and interest. He inherited the debts when he bought the mill from Andover developer Stephen Stapinski for $1 in 2010.

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