Starlight Inn demolition underway in Niantic
East Lyme — Demolition activities planned by the Connecticut Department of Transportation at the Starlight Inn motel, located at 256 Flanders Road, officially launched at 8 a.m. Wednesday.
Two excavators, one yellow and the other orange, and a nimble Bobcat skid steer — which had appeared relatively motionless on-site to passing drivers for about eight weeks — finally came to life.
The $142 million Interstate 95 Exit 74 Interchange Project includes the razing of the Starlight Inn’s two long motel room buildings, an old restaurant and two structures on the former Mobil property.
“We are very pleased that the demolition process has finally begun. It will address the blight the town has had to deal with for a while,” First Selectman Kevin Seery said. “It is really the kick-off to the project which will begin in earnest in the Spring.”
This next phase follows the preparations started in June, which disconnected the water, power and cable to the property and removed all hazardous materials such as bulbs and thermal lighting from inside the structures.
“We already removed the 41 air conditioner units and 24 refrigerators,” Bruce Devanney, vice president of environmental services, Inc. said, explaining that only furniture and beds remained in the motel rooms.
“The excavator will take the buildings apart and we will segregate steel material for recycling. The mattresses will be shredded,” Devanney said.
The orange excavator’s bucket was maneuvered just to the left of the Mobil street sign, and with one powerful tap from the left, the pole and Mobil sign came crashing to the ground. The Starlight Inn pole and street sign also were taken down.
Two men wearing reflector vests and hard hats pulled panels of chain link fencing from a flatbed truck and positioned them along the two driveway entrances, between the Starlight Inn and the old restaurant, as well as between that structure and the Mobil gas station next door. According to Devanney, these will prevent the public from entering the three sites as the demolition work, which is expected to continue throughout the month, is completed.
The Bobcat skid steer’s job was to fetch each board removed from doorways and windows by one of the workers and add it to the pile in the center of the property.
By the end of the day, the yellow excavator was in position at the foot of one of the motel buildings, waiting for the tanker truck that will arrive along with more vehicles and equipment on Thursday.
A dump trailer, a flatbed with a big water tank and roll-off containers will assist the crew with the demolition phase that will begin on Thursday morning.
“We can’t make big dusty clouds. It’s against the regulations,” Devanney explained, referring to the water mister trucks that will be coming. “We will wet the buildings as we knock the buildings down to keep dust to a minimum.”
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