By Debra Smith Herald Writer
EVERETT — The Kimberly-Clark paper plant has been a fixture on the waterfront so long it’s hard to imagine Everett without it.
But at some point, it will be gone.
And don’t expect a new community park or high-end condos and shops to take its place.
The company plans to demolish the buildings and sell the land. And that will take some time.
Although the fate of the property isn’t sorted out, city officials said they would like to keep the site devoted to heavy manufacturing or other industrial use. That’s what it’s zoned for.
The property is about 90 acres along prime waterfront near the Everett Naval Station. The proximity to deep water makes it a valuable, rare asset, said Allan Giffen, Everett’s Planning and Community Development director.
He said the city administration doesn’t support a change to residential.
“It’s a prime piece of property and we’d like to keep it in productive use,” he said.
The city has a vested interest in the future of the Kimberly-Clark site, said spokeswoman Kate Reardon.
“It’s too early at this point to talk with any certainly at what the future looks like,” she said. “Our primary goal is for a future use is one that provides an opportunity to recapture family-wage jobs.”
There is a hint of a chance that there might be public access at the site in the future.
Depending on what type of company buys the land, it might be required by state regulations to provide public access to the waterfront, Giffen said.
Kimberly-Clark Corp. was in negotiations to sell the pulp and tissue mill to Atlas Holdings Inc. Those talks fell through in December because of environmental issues.
Most of the people who worked at the mill no longer do. About 200 workers remain.
It’s expected to be shut down by the end of March, said Bob Brand, a Kimberly-Clark spokesman.
“We’re taking it one step at a time,” he said.
Don’t expect bulldozers to show up the day after the mill closes.
It will likely be months, and perhaps longer, before the company is able to meet requirements for demolition.
The company has to go through a review process to make sure demolishing the building won’t cause harm to the environment. The state may also get involved, if contaminated soils are found on site, which could make for a longer process.
The company has yet to file paperwork to begin that process.
What’s also not clear is who will be responsible for cleaning up environmental problems that stalled the original sale talks. Company officials said they are ready to help.
“Kimberly-Clark recognizes that some environmental remediation will likely be required,” Brand said, “and the company will cooperate fully with the state Department of Ecology, other potentially liable parties and interested stakeholders, in efforts to address this situation.”
Debra Smith: 425-339-3197 or firstname.lastname@example.org.