Demolition of several buildings on the north end of the former RG Steel mill near the main entrance on Pine Street was expected and in keeping with a bankruptcy court agreement, a Steelworkers union leader says.
All or most of several buildings in the finishing area that were “going to be demo’d no matter what” have been taken down in recent weeks, said Darryl Parker, president of United Steelworkers Local 1375, which represents 1,000 former employees.
The buildings include ones for galvanizing, shipping, electrical, portable annealing and storage.
The agreement the former owner, C.J. Betters Enterprises, had with the bankruptcy court called for the “hot mill” part of the facility in the southeast area to be preserved in an effort to find a buyer to operate it.
The demolitions taking place now don’t affect the potential for that to happen, Parker said.
“In all actuality, we thought they’d start sooner than that,” Parker said of demolitions by the current owner, Hilco Trading.
But Parker said the window of opportunity for reopening the hot mill is closing rapidly.
“Whoever wants to operate the hot mill — if they don’t do something in the near future, the costs for operating and maintaining it will increase significantly,” he said.
It needs major electrical and equipment upgrades, and it would be “a near miracle if someone came at this point,” he said. “For those who were holding out hope, the best thing for them would be to move on,” Parker said of his membership.
Parker said 250 of his 1,000 members have found different jobs in places such as Massillon, Canton, Aurora, RTI in Niles, Wheatland Tube, Thomas Steel, Sharon, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Lorain and Youngstown.
An additional 200 are being retrained through the federal Trade Adjustment Assistance program, and the remaining 550 have retired or are waiting for the Warren mill to reopen, he said.