ROXBURY, NJ – The massive jaw of the “long-reach demolition” unit tore into the former cement plant in Kenvil, ripping out huge steel beams and chunks of industrial equipment.
Crunching sounds of destruction, accompanied by waves of dust, filled the air.
At the controls, Jason Simmons was a master of precision. He wielded the behemoth business end of the $1 million “LRD” machine as delicately as tweezers, carefully twisting free the pieces and setting them aside.
Watching in awe, and shooting videos, was the owner of the structure, Scott Fullerton. He stood next to John Caravella - the owner of Caravella Demolition, the contractor for the job.
With each hulking item Simmons yanked free, Fullerton came closer to realizing his plan to convert the 7-acre site on 77 Hillside Ave. into the new headquarters for his business, Fullerton Grounds Maintenance.
“We hope to be on the premises in a year and in the building in two years,” Fullerton said. The company is currently headquartered nearby, off Berkshire Valley Road in Kenvil.
A Long Road
Getting to this point wasn’t easy; Fullerton – who began seeking approvals for the project two years ago – faced some regulatory hurdles, particularly with the state Department of Environmental Protection due to the site’s proximity to wetlands.
If Fullerton thought it would be smooth sailing once he made it through the permitting maze, he was wrong. The demolition portion of his project is proving far from easy, he said.
That’s because Fullerton wants to keep intact most of the structure’s masonry walls, a decision that requires the heavy-equipment operators to somehow remove the buildings’ guts without damaging the outer shell. Hence, Simmons’ delicacy with the LRD machine.
“We’re saving the structure,” Fullerton said. Doing so is adding to the project’s cost and complexity, but Fullerton said nostalgia and a respect for Roxbury history played a part in that decision.
The cement plant, now dormant and covered with graffiti, was hopping with activity in the 1970s and 1980s, Fullerton noted. “I grew up here,” he said. “When I was a kid, and when I was in high school, this was a big business in town."
Fullerton’s project is breathing new life into a piece of vacant property and a hulking, dilapidated structure that he described, in his proposal to town officials, as “a home for vagrants and an attractive nuisance for vandals and trespassers who have soiled the interior.”
He said the interior of the place was strewn with the remnants of trespassers' misbehavior including needles, bottles, cans, filthy mattresses and discarded condoms.
To read more about the project, check out these prior TAPinto Roxbury articles:
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