Officials to decide whether to burn or raze Wolfe Avenue house

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Andreas Yilma, Staff Writer

The town-owned house at 35 Wolfe Ave. in Beacon Falls. –ANDREAS YILMA

BEACON FALLS — Once the home of Tracy Lewis, an industrial leader in the early 20th century, the house at 35 Wolfe Ave. may soon be coming down.

The Board of Selectmen is exploring its options when it comes to taking down the home and detached carriage house on the property. Officials are looking into whether to raze the buildings or allow Beacon Hose Co. No. 1 to conduct a live burn training on the property.

“I believe that we have been under the impression that if we just demolished and then removed, that the potential was that that was going to be more expensive than doing the burn,” said Selectman Christopher Bielik during the board’s March 9 meeting.

Voters approved buying the 1.5-acre property and house, which once belonged to Beacon Falls Rubber Shoe Co. President Tracy Lewis, in 2008 for $425,000. At the time, officials planned to build a community center and library on the property. However, those plans didn’t move forward and the house has fallen into disrepair.

Officials are going to gather information on which option — a live burn or demolition — is cheaper before deciding how to move forward.

“If we burn it, there’s a certain amount of things that have to be done before we could burn it down,” First Selectman Gerard Smith said. “If we knock it down, there’s less we have to do.”

This fiscal year’s budget includes $80,000 designated to taking down the buildings on the property. Before the buildings are taken down they will have to be remediated.

Eagle Environmental, an industrial hygiene firm, conducted an environmental assessment of the buildings. Smith, in a subsequent interview, said there is asbestos in both buildings and lead paint in the house.

Smith said he would like to do the live burn or demolish the house by early summer.