Vin Nolan's swan-song address this week celebrated many of New Milford's economic highlights over the last five years, but the town's outgoing economic development supervisor concluded with what proved a reality check.

Despite his and other leaders' best efforts, the town-owned former Century Brass mill, which has undergone a multimillion-dollar environmental cleanup, remains the town's industrial albatross, Mr. Nolan said Sept. 27 at his farewell meeting.

Mr. Nolan has accepted a new job in Florida.

He said he firmly believes the town's only option now is to tear down the 300,000-square-foot former mill building along Housatonic Avenue so the 72-acre industrial property could eventually be redeveloped.

Frank Wargo, the chairman of the Economic Development Commission, and several other commission members agree.

From the day the town took ownership of the old mill more than a decade ago, Mr. Wargo said he realized it "just got a three-legged race horse.''

Even after a massive exterior cleanup, as well as some interior work, there is more to be done, including replacement of a buckling metal roof. The facility is now home only to trespassers and vermin.

Town leaders had hopes some business entrepreneur or industry might want to refurbish the existing complex.

The most serious prospect was a Brookfield-based company that until a year ago this spring wanted to build an ethanol plant, but the economy and opposition from some local environmental groups and neighbors forced that deal to collapse.

Mayor Patricia Murphy said Sept. 29 taking the building down might be the best option, but it would require several million dollars to do the job.

The disposal of some of the still-hazardous materials would require a special disposal site, she explained.

Mayor Murphy said she does have a potential investor who has visited the site three times, but she is not certain what type of offer might be forthcoming. The cost of removing the building, or substantially refurbishing it, would likely be factor in any negotiation, she said.

The mayor said she suspects the property would be more marketable without the building. A federal Brownfields property, the former mill has already undergone an extensive cleanup and is zoned for industrial use with all the required setbacks.

"From my point of view, from my zoning background, that's where I'd like to see it go,'' Mayor Murphy said of the property being transformed into some type of industrial complex.

"We're open to most options, but from the point of safety, the building has become an attractive nuisance," she concluded.