Old Deferiet mill to be razed, mayor calls it ‘absolutely glorious’

Published: May. 23, 2023 at 5:16 PM EDT
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DEFERIET, New York (WWNY) - Monday’s announcement that the state awarded more than $8.5 million for demolition at the old St. Regis paper mill in Deferiet is cause for celebration in the village.

“Absolutely glorious. I was practically jumping up and down,” said Mayor Janet Zando.

The funding is part of the Restore New York Communities Initiative. The goal: finding new uses for vacant, rundown properties and bringing in new tax revenue for communities.

“We’re certainly happy that by removing these derelict buildings which are condemned at this point, they’re not usable, we’ll make way for some economic improvement in that area of the county,” said Jefferson County Attorney David Paulsen.

That economic improvement could be an 80-acre solar farm. Eventually, it could bring value back to the property that has limited reuse because of environmental concerns, and it could bring tax revenue back to the village, town and county.

“Instead of the county and the local taxpayers picking up the cost of those taxes, you’d have new businesses paying those taxes. Every dollar being spent by another business coming into the community is less of a burden on the rest of us,” said Jefferson County Economic Development CEO Dave Zembiec.

The village will work with the JCIDA, and NYSERDA to reuse the land after it’s cleared.

“The plan is with these funds, we move in and clean it up. Meanwhile, we work with NYSERDA, they’ll develop a plan for what’s an appropriate size solar development for that site,” said Zembiec.

In its later years, the mill was known as the Deferiet Paper and employed 400 people. It closed in 2004 and has sat vacant since.

“It certainly has been an eyesore and it is going to be a great asset to the village to have it be taken down,” said Zando.

look for work to start in the spring.