WESTERLY — A Connecticut-based company has purchased the Cherenzia Co.’s two quarries and related equipment and buildings and has taken over a lease to extract stone and rock from the Comolli family’s Bradford quarry property.
Rawson Materials, headquartered in Putnam, purchased Cherenzia’s properties on Old Hopkinton Road, North Granite Avenue, Kent Avenue, and White Rock Road for a total of about $11 million, according to Madilyn C. Smith, corporate counsel and executive administrator for Rawson Materials. Included in the sale were three commercial condominiums at 73 Old Hopkinton Road, crushing equipment, loaders, excavators, haulers and quarry trucks. The sales closed on March 1.
A portion of the sale is supported by a $6.5 million mortgage that allows Rawson to pay over time. If Rawson is unable to meet its loan obligation, the land would revert to Cherenzia.
The town’s option to buy a portion of the White Rock Road property, where town officials envision a solar power array, remains in place. The town would have to exercise its option to buy the property for $3.34 million by Dec. 31, and a closing would have to occur by July 1, 2019. The town is also engaged in a separate lease-to-purchase agreement to buy a different section of the White Rock Road property. Town officials have said that parcel is important to help protect the groundwater supply for public drinking-water wells in the area.
The purchase is consistent with Rawson’s plan to expand into Rhode Island and will allow the company to offer new products, Smith said. She said the company has hired several former Cherenzia quarry operators and anticipates hiring more in the future.
Cherenzia will continue to sell and deliver stone and rock products to residential and small commercial customers such as landscapers and septic-system installers, Thomas J. Liguori Jr., the company’s lawyer, and Sam Cherenzia IV, a project superintendent, said during an interview on Tuesday.
Cherenzia’s trucking unit will remain intact and will serve Rawson and other customers, Liguori said. “That represents an attempt to keep as many jobs local as possible,” Liguori said.
The company will also continue to offer large-scale excavation, mobile stone- and rock-crushing, and site work. The two companies will likely collaborate to offer jetty stone for coastal applications such as sea walls, Liguori said. Harvesting large rock pieces for coastal work was Cherenzia’s primary focus for the Bradford property.
Cherenzia & Associates Ltd., the company’s civil and environmental engineering, land development and surveying division, is not affected by the sale, Liguori said.
Cherenzia had leased the 106-acre Bradford property, which is owned by the Comollis’ Westerly Granite Co. Inc., since late 2015. Most of Cherenzia’s work there involved disposing of and remediating mammoth stone-dust piles left by Copar Quarries of Westerly, which leased the property from late 2010 to August 2015, when its corporate parent, Armetta Sand & Stone, filed for bankruptcy. Cherenzia's three-year lease with Westerly Granite was transferred to Rawson. It expires late this year and includes an option for an additional two-year term, subject to approval by Westerly Granite and Rawson.
Rawson plans to use the Bradford property for quarry operations and is aware of the problems that Copar caused the neighborhood and the town, Smith said. She said she could not say exactly when operations will start up on the Bradford property.
“We have a very good record and believe in operating in a clean and effective manner and working with neighboring property owners,” Smith said.
Copar was a defendant in a number of lawsuits that claimed the company put neighboring property owners at risk by allowing stone dust to blow into their yards. The neighbors also complained about noise and issues related to blasting. Copar was cited several times by the town, the state and the federal government for a variety of safety, zoning and environmental violations.
Rawson now has a total of nine locations. The company is a wholly owned subsidiary of O&G Industries Inc., also based in Connecticut. O&G provides building, asphalt paving and civil construction services, and sells masonry and construction materials. O&G is part of a four-company consortium that won a $248 million contract in December from the Rhode Island Department of Transportation to design and rebuild the Routes 6-10 interchange in Providence. Smith said Rawson does not currently have a role in the Providence project.