Smokestack for the defunct Milliken textile mill on Kennedy Street. The facility once employed hundreds of people in northern Moore County. The mill closed down in the early 1990s, and a fire reduced the abandoned facility to a charred eyesore in 2008. The site of the former mill has been mostly cleared and the town can start exploring possibilities for the location.

Town Commissioners in Robbins heard an update on cleanup progress at the site of where the Milliken Mill once stood during their regularly scheduled meeting in the Robbins Fire and Rescue Department Thursday.

Joe Morici, a representative of Cardno Inc., told commissioners of the latest work to be done at the site, and the plans going forward. Cardno was brought on to help Robbins secure grant funding through the Environmental Protection Agency’s Brownfields program to pay for cleaning of the contaminated property. The project began in 2013.

“We were fortunate to receive two cleanup grants in 2016 that really concentrated on where the slabs are on the mill site. That grant was closed out in 2019,” Morici said. “Our next step is really kind of evaluating what we want to do in terms of redevelopment; what are the possibilities and eventually apply for a cleanup grant for the final parcel.”

The property was broken into five separate parcels during the planning stages, with four parcels requiring a grant for clean up. The latest work was done in the parcel around the smokestack that also included above-ground storage tanks of fuel that still had fuel stored. That cleanup was paid for through a 2019 grant.

A drill crew is scheduled to come in after Thanksgiving to drill 50 feet underground on that parcel to look for groundwater as well as collect a soil sample to secure a closure letter for that parcel.

That area was cleared, along with the underground piping, and now one parcel remains.

Morici said that with the passage of the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill that President Joe Biden signed into law this week will lead to more federal grants for the Brownfields program.

The first two parcels that were cleared have the go-ahead to be redeveloped however the town sees fit, Morici said. New EPA regulations restrict the construction of single-family homes being built on the property, but multi-family homes like apartments are a possibility.

Commissioner Kevin Stewart implored Morici with the thought of another industrial facility being built on the property.

“Most of the site is available for multi-family residential or industry,” Morici said. “A majority of the site could be redeveloped for either one of those options.”

Town Manager Clint Mack informed the Board of Commissioners on the two water-system related projects ongoing at the main pump station and the wastewater treatment plant.

Work contracted out to Terry’s Plumbing on the pump station has been delayed due to a lack of supplies needed on the project. Mack said that the Wooten Company is overseeing both projects, and has helped keep both projects on pace, but the delay on the start of the pump station has raised concerns.

“Overall, we want the project done, and Eric (Olsen) from Wooten is losing his patience very quickly,” Mack said.

The wastewater treatment plant is still on schedule to be done by July, Mack said.

Commissioners also heard a public comment from Sue Lopez regarding the high water rates in the town. A resident of the town for 13 years, Lopez said she elected not to plant flowers around her home this year to save money, but her water rates remained elevated. Her friends in other municipalities in the county said their water bills are significantly lower to their rates.

“I have spoke with Ms. Lopez before when she came out to town hall and told her that is something the town is looking into,” Mack told the board.

Contact Jonathan Bym at (910) 693-2470 or jonathan@thepilot.com.

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(1) comment

Barbara Misiaszek

I hope the town will contact the County to work with them on water project. There's an east Moore Water District managed by the County. Why not a North Moore Water District?

Pinehurst nixed a casino, how about Robbins,? Or an amphitheater or a world class botanical garden? Maybe they could get some County CVB money for these projects - after the County raises the room tax rate to 6%.

John Misiaszek

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