It has been just over four years since the eastside mill was consumed by fire, leaving behind a burnt scar on the city. Since that time, city officials have worked to see the property rid of debris.
Months after the massive fire, the Tallassee City Council voted to bring suit against then-property owner Tommy Hudson during the July 2016 regular council meeting because the remaining walls at the site were deemed to be in danger of collapse. With only a fence around the structure to secure the property, it could’ve potentially be a liability issue for the City of Tallassee.
Later, in a regular May 2017 meeting, the city council voted to dismiss the lawsuit without prejudice, meaning the lawsuit could be reopened if cleanup efforts ceased, and they did.
In July 2018, Tallassee Mayor Hammock and the city council reinstated the lawsuit against Hudson.
Late last year, Hudson opted to give the property to the City of Tallassee.
Now that the city has the title to the property, further steps can be taken to secure grant funding that will assist in the cost of cleanup.
Hammock along with officials with the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) toured the site on Monday.
According to Hammock, the city is working with ADEM and is wrapping up the end of what he calls Phase 1 of the eastside mill project. This phase includes taking a look into the former textile industry's past.
"Phase 1 is looking back at all the records," Hammock said. "They are checking all the records that they have, creating a paper trail."
Now that Phase 1 almost complete, Hammock is hopeful ADEM will move forward with Phase 2.
"Phase 2, that would be soil samples and things like that,” Hammock said. “Making sure no chemicals throughout the years like starch, diesel fuel and things like that got into the soil.”
If Phase 2 is complete, the next step will be looking into grant opportunities such as Brownfields funding that would be used to clean up the site.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency's Brownfields Program provides grants and technical assistance to communities, states, tribes and others to assess, safely clean up and sustainably reuse contaminated properties.
In the past city officials have applied for Brownfields funding but were denied. However, Hammock is optimistic about the project because ADEM is involved in the process. Hammock also recently completed a grant writing program at Troy University and he plans to employ the skills he learned there as the eastside mill project continues.