BENNINGTON -- The masonry operation at the Morse Block in Bennington, acquired last year by S.D. Ireland, is closing, resulting in the loss of four local jobs.
Burlington-based S.D. Ireland acquired the S.T. Griswold Co. last May, including the masonry operation in Bennington. Griswold had acquired the business from the family of the late William H. Morse, a longtime prominent businessman and landowner in Bennington.
MatthewMaroney,an employee at the Morse Block and a Bennington SelectBoard member, is one of four people losing a job becauseS.D. Irelandis pullingthe plug. He said employeeswere informedtheMonday beforeChristmas.There were signs of looming changes, however, after an employee who worked in the yard was let go last August, he said.
"I just think that they've got no interest in retail," Maroney said Monday during a break from cleaning the yard of debris.
Maroney said S.D. Ireland's acquisition of Griswold included several "ready-mix" concrete locations in Williston, which he said was the company's main interest. However, Griswold also held properties in Rutland and Bennington. Maroney said he believes the Rutland location is likely to close, too.
S.D. Ireland Vice President of Operations Charles Craig did not return calls seeking comment.
Maroney on Monday said he and a handful of other S.D. Ireland employees were working to clear the yard of debris, as requested by the landowner, Bennington resident Larry Cole.
"There is 50 years of stuff piled up," Maroney said.
Cole, the grandson of Morse and current owner of the nearly 12-acre parcel the Morse Block sits on, said S.D. Ireland's lease was set to expire soon, but no negotiations took place to renew it.
"They chose not to express any interest in continuing," Cole said. "We never had the opportunity to see ... what they wanted to do."
Cole, a local police officer, said his grandfather began manufacturing concrete blocks in the late 1940s at a facility in Beech Street, before moving the business to the junction of Northside Drive and Harwood Hill a short time later. Cole said his father managed the site from the 1950s.
The business was sold to Griswold in 1995, which until last year leased the land. S.D. Ireland became the tenant when it acquired Griswold.
Cole said it is unclear whether the land will go on the market or whether he will look for another company "to continue with the long history that's been there."
"It's, truthfully, really up in the air right now. We've only known this for about three weeks," he said. "I guess we want to see what it looks like when they leave, what's left."
Cole said there has been no recent interest from developers looking at the land for retail development. However, Cole said he believes that is likely to be long-term future of the land.
"That's where we see that it's headed, some kind of development that coincides with what's happening on Northside Drive," Cole said.
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