A $4,500 emergency effort to shore up the Lackawanna Mill before the snow flies is under way, with the Town Council approving the project in a unanimous vote Monday night.
Town officials said the historic mill is “dangerously close to requiring major repairs.”
The ore shoot is twisted and a gaping hole is in the roof.
Silverton engineer Mark Mackie told town officials that the ore shoot appears substantially more twisted than it was in 2005 and is unlikely to survive the winter if it isn’t repaired.
Silverton contractor Pete Maisel submitted a bid of $4,500 to stabilize the structure and the Town Council gave its go-ahead Monday night.
Town Planner Adam Sickmiller noted the urgency of the project.
“The town has a building right now that should probably be condemned,” he said.
Sickmiller said he has been mining various agencies across the state for funding for the emergency repairs, but has yet to hit pay dirt.
He said the Bureau of Land Management, which has some interest in the property due to a tangled title, did express some interest in helping out.
“But I’m thinking the snow will fall faster than the BLM will move,” Sickmiller said, suggesting the project can’t wait till spring.
Town Trustee Pat Swonger said the Lackawanna is a case of the town “not taking care of what we’ve got.
“We have a major property that’s falling apart,” Swonger said. He said the town needs to get a plan for the structure and not just do emergency repairs every four or five years to keep it from falling down.
“It’s an historic property,” Swonger said. “There’s a certain obligation that comes with that.”
The Lackawanna Mill was built in 1928 and operations continued intermittently through 1969, during which time gold, silver, lead, copper, zinc and tungsten were recovered from ore.
Early in 2005 the Town of Silverton’s Board of Trustees began to realize that although the Lackawanna mill is a possible liability and potential maintenance problem, it just might be an asset for the future of Silverton. Silverton acquired the mill when it purchased the Lackawanna Placer with Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) funds, adding property adjacent to Silverton’s Kendall Mountain Recreation Area.
Although most of the mill is located on the Lackawanna Placer, a portion of the building straddles BLM property to the northwest.
The mill building has been the victim of the elements since its closure in 1969. Some roof repair and timber stabilization have been done, but in order to use the structure for any future public uses, major restoration and remodeling is necessary, a 2005 report by former Town Planner Beverly Kaiser said.