from Malcolm Larson
May 10, 2012
One issue that continues to be ignored is the dangerous condition of this building and the hazard it presents to Firefighters, neighbors, unknown occupants and the Mattapan / Ashmont trolley. During my time as Milton Fire Chief (1998-2009) I was in command at the 1999 Hood Cold Storage fire on Wharf Street. This 9 Alarm fire required mutual aid from as far away as Waltham and over 100 Firefighters at times, not to mention the trolley shutdown and financial costs. It took weeks to fully extinguish and was the largest fire and hazardous material incident of the year in Massachusetts.
Fortunately there were no serious injuries at the Wharf Street fire, but let us never forget the 6 Worchester Firefighters that died in an abandon refrigerated warehouse fire that same year. A building not very different than our Henries Ice Cream building.
As bad as the exterior of the Henries building looks, it is for the most part just an aluminum siding like covering with fake windows over a windowless, cork insulated old cold storage warehouse / factory. The interior is deteriorating to the point where the ceilings and walls are caving in and the floors and roof are sagging and unsafe to walk on. The roof leaks letting in more water than it keeps out causing continual structural deterioration, a mold paradise and a basement filled with over 4 feet of stagnant water. This has been the condition for 20 years or more.
Although I had the building labeled with the red X signs over 10 years ago, indicating NO ENTRY to responding Firefighters, Milton Police reports document people being in and on the building and I have seen evidence of occupation myself. People in a building changes everything for responding Firefighters.
My primary concern is not what will be built on this lot, but the unacceptable dangerous condition of this warehouse and continual deterioration with no end in sight. I certainly hope that letting this dangerous condition continue to increase is not a negotiating strategy.
At some point in the next several months, if Planning Board agreement is not reached and this building is not demoed, the Town should require a structural engineer report detailing the structural condition of this building. If an impartial engineer report justifies condemning the building, it should be taken down ASAP. It is unacceptable and unnecessary that years continue to pass and we are no closer to an empty lot at the Henries location. Developer / Planning Board meetings can continue without the looming danger and visual eyesore of this building.
Milton Fire Chief, Retired