PATERSON, NJ- Perhaps symbolic of the hunger for new development and opportunity in Paterson, an oversized excavator stretched its jaws wide on Wednesday to tear down one of the remaining structures on the Leader Dye site situated on Madison Avenue.

While demolition is slated to be completed in approximately four weeks, and will culminate in the probable implosion of the nearly 150-foot smokestack, area residents will have to wait a bit longer for something else to rise in its place.

The buildings that have existed on the site for nearly 125 years are a reflection of Paterson’s industrial past, Gianfranco Archimede, the Executive Director of the city’s Historic Preservation Commission, told TAPinto Paterson. Today's planning and zoning regulations would not allow an industrial complex of this size to be “in the middle of a residential neighborhood,” he suggested.

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The site functioned as a silk mill and dye finishing complex and these uses may have left behind contaminants, but following demolition, an environmental testing phase will begin to make sure that the site is completely mitigated prior to any new construction occurring, Archimede said.

Overseeing the work on Wednesday was Dennis Dannenfelser, project manger for Two Brothers Contracting, the firm that was awarded the contract by the Paterson City Council earlier this year. Saying that he was the third generation of his family to work in the business which specializes in demolition, abatement, and construction, Dannenfelser walked TAPinto Paterson through the clean-up process which includes segregating the building’s remains into separate piles,  recycling the masonry, and carting everything away, leaving the site flat and ready for future use.

Using a large machine that sprays a steady stream of water onto the debris to reduce dust, and constant monitoring of the air by a trained professional on site whenever work is happening is all part of the contractor’s efforts to “follow all guidelines and keep the neighborhood safe.”

While future uses for the site, and the costs associated with the clean-up will be determined by a number of variables, including the type and spread of any contaminants, city officials will work closely with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and expect that through the state’s Hazardous Discharge Site Remediation Program (HDSRP) much of it will be recouped.

The end result, Paterson’s Director of Economic Development Ruben Gomez said will be a “win, win, win” by creating a space that “increases ratables and improves the quality of the life” for the city and Paterson residents, while providing the future developer an opportunity to “maximize return on their investment.”

Third Ward Councilman and mayoral candidate Bill McKoy welcomed the demolition saying the site has been an “eyesore for decades,” forcing nearby residents into the unacceptable position of having to wake up every morning “next to a dump.” By taking possession of the site, as well as completing the demolition and clean up that will leave it “filled and presentable,” he is confident that what will rise, whether it’s a mix or retail and housing, or some other use, will “better fit the residential area and provide real tax revenue.”

Lamenting the fact that the site has been an “obstacle to economic development for too long” Sixth Ward Councilman, and mayoral candidate, Andre Sayegh, who chairs the Council’s Economic Development Committee, called the work being done “symbolic.”

“By taking this building down we are getting a glimpse of where we, as a city are heading.”