HOLLAND, Mich. (WOOD) — Crews demolished a decommissioned coal power plant in Holland Thursday morning.
The demolition of the James De Young power plant at 64 Pine Ave. happened shortly after 9:30 a.m. The controlled implosion included a rapid series of detonations, producing a loud boom and a cloud of dust.
Hundreds of people gathered at Kollen Park and boats were on Lake Macatawa to watch the implosion. Watchers clapped and cheered as it came down. Dunton Park was closed off for safety.
“Feeling kind of nostalgic: My father used to work at the plant for 17 years,” said Gary Brink, a lifelong Holland resident who headed to the waterfront to see the demolition. “He used to bring me in there on Sunday afternoons when he had to go in and clean the boilers out.”
He recalled bringing lunch to his father on Saturdays: smelt and fries.
“He’d be all black from all the soot from the coal,” Brink said.
“I’ll just be thinking about my dad, how fun it was when I went there with him,” he said of when the plant would come down. “Could be a little bit sad, but he’ll be watching from above.”
The James De Young power plant was originally built with two coal-fired boilers in 1939 as part of the New Deal of 1933, according to the city of Holland. The power plant supplied Holland with electricity for 78 years, closing in 2017. After it was closed, environmental assessments and remediations were performed at the site.
The city plans to redevelop the 17-acre property on the Lake Macatawa waterfront in downtown Holland. Verplank Dock Co. could be moved to the plant site to help free up space at the end of 8th Street. Voters in May approved a ballot question allowing the city to sell some land and facilitate the project.
“It’s a historic moment,” Holland resident Deborah Jedynak said of the demolition. “To me, it means progress for the future, for future generations. Maybe I won’t be around to see the development to fruition, but I think it’s a good sign that we are moving forward.”
The Holland Board of Public Works says the plant would have been brought down regardless of the redevelopment plan because of its age. The building has been stripped over several years and in May, windows and bricks were removed. BPW said money was put aside for the past several years to pay for the implosion, which carried a price tag of about $5.7 million.
Crews were expected to be working at the plant site throughout the day to clear debris.