By James Niedzinski
---- — ROCKPORT — The long-vacant shell of the former Cape Ann Tool Company may soon be cleared from its derelict waterfront site in Pigeon Cove.
Town officials confirmed Friday that Michael Rauseo, who acquired the Cape Ann Tool site as Cape Ann Tool LLC in 2012 and runs the Yankee Clipper Inn, took out demolition permits on the property earlier this month.
Rauseo, who purchased the property from longtime former owner Christopher Kaneb and his Old Colony Maritime LLC, for $1.5 million in October, was not available for comment Friday, and no firm time line of any demolition plans could be ascertained.
Building Inspector Paul Orlando said he has not been to the site recently, but no pre-site visit was required for the demolition permits. Orlando said the permit has not been issued yet, he first needs to confirm with Rauseo the utilities are disconnected.
Once the demolition permit is issued, Rauseo would have six months to carry out work on the project before the permit expires and needs renewal.
The town and Pigeon Cove neighbors have long wrestled with how to handle the property, which has been largely vacant since the Tool Company ceased operations in 1987 and has been decried as an eyesore for a number of years.
According to a report by Rockport’s Tool Company Task Force — formed last year to study the town’s options regarding the site, then disbanded without producing any firm initiative — the property was listed on the market by Kaneb for $2.95 million in January 2012.
But despite preliminary overtures, neither town officials nor residents ever took any firm steps toward gaining control of the property before Rauseo bought it last fall.
Paul Murphy, vice chairman of the Board of Selectmen, acknowledged that some town residents wanted the town to buy the land and have it developed as a park.
”Where would we even get the money?” he said.
Murphy, in a phone interview Friday, said he is “thrilled” the existing building is going to be taken down. Rauseo has said he is looking to follow Kaneb’s general plans for the property, which would mean converting it into a mixed-use development with condominium housing and some retail space.
Murphy added he is thankful Pigeon Cove residents will no longer have to look at the “monstrosity” and is extremely pleased with the progress that has been made. In addition, he said, he believes town houses or condominiums in line to built on the site should increase the town’s tax base.
James Niedzinski can be reached at 978-283-7000, x 3455 or at email@example.com.