Historic smokestack demolished to make way for park
Published: Monday, March 11, 2013
Updated: Monday, April 22, 2013 21:04
A new park is planned to replace the Curtis Paper Mill smokestack and will be completed by the end of this year or early 2014, according to city officials. The park will include jogging and walking trails, a plaza and a fishing area.
The destruction of the historical smokestack off Paper Mill Road was due primarily to financial and safety reasons, director of Parks and Recreation Charlie Emerson said.
The Newark City Council presented a master planning project for the site on Aug. 8, 2011, according to its website, and the smokestack was destroyed Thursday, Feb. 28.
Emerson said some Newark residents wanted to save the smokestack, but since the landmark was in a bad condition and unsafe, the city had to take it down. Emerson said he thought the new park would be beneficial for the Newark community.
“The park is going to be small, both active and passive,” Emerson said. “There’s going to be a small parking lot, and, where the smokestack is, there’ll be a plaza with some kiosks that have history of the paper mill with some great photos.”
Thomas Meeteer originally bought the land in 1789. Later on, it was purchased by the Curtis family, according to writer for the Mill Creek Hundred History blog Scott Palmer.
Two brothers, Solomon Minot Curtis and George Curtis, bought the mill with a borrowed $7,500 at a sheriff’s sale and completely rebuilt the site. When operations ceased in 1995, the Curtis’s establishment was one of the longest-running paper mills in the United States. Finally, in 1999, it was purchased by the city of Newark and converted into the Curtis Mill Park.
“The loss of the Curtis Mill smokestack was probably inevitable, but still unfortunate,” Palmer said. “It was one of the few remaining links to Newark’s industrial past. I hope the new park will in some way keep the paper mill’s memory alive.”
Mayor Vance A. Funk, III said the decision to remove the smokestack was not one taken lightly. Efforts were made to save the smokestack, but it was found the freestanding figure was no longer structurally sound, and “one bad storm could have taken it down,” Funk said.
The Newark and university community showed mixed reactions over the destruction of the smokestack. Junior Tyonna Brooks said she was upset by its demolition.
“I don’t understand why they would tear it down,” Brooks said. “I think a lot of students had a connection to it, especially those from around here. Destroying the smokestack kind of destroys some of their memories.”
Newark resident Cindy Hall, 51, said she believes a lot of locals who live near the site will miss the smokestack, and she feels like a lot of the Paper Mill history will be forgotten.
“I think they kept part of the prison towers near Route 2 and 41 and incorporated them into new buildings,” Hall said. “It would have been nice for them to have done the same with the smokestack.”
While some students remembered the smokestack for its historical significance, others were relieved it was taken down.
Freshman Abena Dapaah said she was glad the smokestack was destroyed because she said it polluted much of Newark’s air over the years. Dapaah said she is happy a park is replacing the smokestack as repayment for all the damage it caused the environment.
“Good riddance,” Dapaah said. “It was an eyesore. Knowing that it’s finally torn down makes me very happy.”
Mayor Funk remained hopeful that the new park would be a positive improvement for Newark citizens.
“I think the community is known for its parks and trails, and I think a lot of people relocate just for that,” Funk said.