While some Hagerstonians cheer the shutdown of the First Urban Fiber plant they blamed for noise and odor pollution, others must be distressed by the woes that have beset the enterprise former mayor Steve Sager called "the project of a generation."
First Urban came to Hagerstown when officials sought a buyer for the old Municipal Light Plant, shut down because it was cheaper to buy power wholesale from Allegheny Power.
As planned, the project would have refired the light plant to produce steam to blast the ink out of used office paper, producing pulp for recycled paper. But that process proved difficult to perfect, and developers switched to one using detergent instead.
Project costs grew from an estimated $40 million in February 1992 to $102 million in January 1993, but the company announced it had signed a 20-year contract with an unnamed firm to buy all of its recycled pulp. By March 1993, estimated costs had risen to $160 million.