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Former mill site raising new concerns for Salisbury residents

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SALISBURY -- A former mill site in Salisbury is raising new concerns.

The site was home to one of several Cannon textile mills for decades. It was demolished years ago, but the rubble still lies on the property next to several homes.

City leaders said they're making moves to clean up the site, but residents frustrated by the process say it can't happen soon enough.

"Disgusting, it stinks, it smells, it's a complete eyesore," said Monifa Jackson, who has lived next door to the property on Park Avenue for five years. She said she’s seen a growing number of problems ever since the demolition of the former Kesler Mill in 2009.

"Forget the eyesore we're breathing this stuff in, God knows what we're subjecting ourselves and our children to," said Jackson. She said it all came to head last month after she was chased by a raccoon she believes was festering in the debris.

"He jumped up over the fence like in two steps and came charging I had just enough time to close my back door and his body hit the glass, it was the most terrifying experience." Jackson said she fears for the safety of her husband and four children.

Other residents have similar complaints of rats and snakes since the demolition.

FCS Urban Ministries owns the 12-acre property. The non-profit based in Atlanta is willing to turn the property over to the city.

"They do not have the funds to do the clean-up," Joe Morris, Salisbury planning director.

He said the city needs to have the site and debris tested for hazardous materials before they'll take the property. The city is pursuing a $400,000 federal grant from the Environmental Protection Agency.

"We don't know if it's a $200,000 project or if it's a $2 million or a $10 million or a $20 million clean-up so that is all what is part of this assessment," said Morris.

The city is also working to identify 14 other properties that could benefit from the grant. Morris said the Kesler site will top the list, but it could be a year before assessment begins.

"Imagine waking up to this every morning, I mean you see the sun rise over this garbage," said Jackson. She said she and her family have no plans to move. She hopes one day the property can be something that will help keep young people out of trouble.

The grant application is due in mid-November. The city expects to be notified whether it's approved in the spring.

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