Sappi stack fell just as engineers planned

Crews demolish one smokestack at Sappi Paper Mill

MUSKEGON, MICH. - The shore of Muskegon Lake in Muskegon is in the midst of a major transformation away from industrial uses.

That transformation continued Tuesday, July 18, with the demolition of one smokestack at the former Sappi property.

Two other stacks can be seen on Muskegon Lake. A second at the Sappi property, and another at the closed B.C. Cobb power plant.

A number of community members recorded the demolition on cell phones. "Seems like it went the way it was supposed to," said Ray Grigsby.

The demolition firm hired to bring down the tall stack dropped it directly into a pre-dug trench, leaving those who watched it fall hopeful something better will take its place. "Marinas and condos," said Nora Martinez.

"Put something in that people can enjoy," said Mary Grigsby.

The property is owned by Pure Muskegon. "We are on track to do what we wanted to do," said Wes Eklund, Pure Muskegon. "It is just taking a little longer, which is almost to be expected for a project this size."

Pure Muskegon is taking part in the on-going effort to transform industrial property in Muskegon, especially property on Muskegon Lake. "This will not happen in a couple of years," said Eklund. "This is probably a five maybe even a ten year project."

The view from North Muskegon now includes one less stack at the Sappi property. Down Muskegon Lake, the Cobb smokestack may be removed in the next year or two.

City leaders in Muskegon secured a $1 million grant from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality to assist Pure Muskegon in the removal of both stack at the Sappi property. "To get developers interested, they needed to know that those two stacks were going to be gone," said Frank Peterson, Muskegon City Manager.

Peterson says air quality tests showed the potentially harmful asbestos on the exterior of the smokestack didn't become a danger for neighbors, and roads around the property were reopened shortly after the stack came down.

"I think falling in one piece really help mitigate the dust," Peterson said.

Debris from the stack is being dowsed with water, and will be trucked to a certified landfill. Work should start this month to remove the exterior paint from the second stack. It will likely be knocked to the ground next month.

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