The smokestack, or chimney, is a 152-foot brick structure that was built in 1957 at the Warren Waste Water Treatment Plant.

The smokestack, or chimney, is a 152-foot brick structure that was built in 1957 at the Warren Waste Water Treatment Plant.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

Smokestack at WWTP will be demolished

By: Gena Johnson | Warren Weekly | Published February 3, 2023


WARREN — At their meeting on Jan. 24, members of the Warren City Council voted to demolish the smokestack at the city’s Waste Water Treatment Plant.

Council voted unanimously, 6-0. Councilman Ron Papandrea was not present at the meeting.

Warren Mayor James Fouts has been working to get this demolished for months.

“Obviously, I am very happy. It took a long time for them to make a decision,” he said.

According to Fouts, the smokestack has been a hazard since 2013 and has only gotten progressively worse.

An external and internal chimney inspection was done in October 2013 by Gerard Chimney Co., which reported the potential for brick and mortar debris falling from a height that is very high and is an imminent and serious danger to life and property. 

The smokestack, or chimney, is a 152-foot brick structure that was built in 1957.  Bricks falling from this height could cause serious injury or death, said Bryan Clor, director of the Warren Waste Water Treatment Plant.

“The smokestack is a clear danger to the health and safety of our employees and the public,” Fouts said. “It is imperative to address this potential threat and endangerment now, before the falling bricks, water damage and lead-based paint cause serious damage to employees and the citizens’ health.”

Some council members asked if the smokestack was such a danger in 2013, why did the tower stay up for so long, and why are they just learning about the danger?

According to Clor, after 2013, the smokestack was used as a cellphone tower.  The structure could not be demolished until all the cell phone equipment was removed.

“Could not take it down until all the cellphone equipment was off of it,” said Clor.  “Otherwise, it would have been a public hazard because all of the cellphones in the area would have been out.”   

According to Warren City Council Secretary Mindy Moore, the mayor presented the City Council with an item in December to demolish the smokestack with a request to approve the cost of $375,000. She said the council could not get any of their questions answered regarding this request.

“We don’t have access to anything,” said Moore. “By court order, we’re not allowed to contact you (Clor). I have to go through the mayor. I can’t call you back if you call me.”

Although the item was approved in an amount not to exceed $374,000, Moore said there was no money in the budget for it. There is only $150,000 available in capital expenditures to pay for it, and she said she didn’t know where the rest of the money would come from.

According to Clor, the money for the demolition has been moving forward from budget to budget since 2017.

“If you actually had $374,000, it should be reflected in the budget,” Moore said. “We don’t go back to the Wayback Machine. We bring things from the way back to today’s machine.”

Councilman Garry Watts said to Clor, “How come you didn’t come to any of the budget hearings? You’re a department head. You present a budget. You’ve always come there?”

“The mayor made it clear that our department heads have been getting abused by council members, in his opinion, and he recommended that none of us appear before council,” Clor said.

“Taxpayers are paying your wages,” said Watts. “You disrespected this council and you disrespected the citizens. It’s not just you, I’ve told this to more than one department head.”

Fouts has called the City Council difficult and said it is not easy to move items forward.

“This current council has chosen to ignore or vote no but usually just ignore and not even vote on important proposals I’ve had,” he said.