Crews working on Dean Foods property in Evart
EVART — Since the doors of the Dean Foods dairy facility closed more than four years ago, there has been little done with the property and has fallen into disrepair.
However, Evart City Manager Zack Szakacs said company staff members are in Evart and working on the site.
"They're cleaning it up and maintaining the facility," he said. "All the property is getting mowed. They've also hired a security firm so there won't be any more vandalism."
The city manager and city council members have discussed the Dean Foods building and property over the last year, with vandalism being reported multiple times.
City officials decided the property became a blight issue, Szakacs said.
"The city looked to serve them with a blight notice and (company officials) decided they would do something about it," he said.
The Dean Foods dairy has been in the Evart community for generations. Beginning as Liberty Dairy in 1928, the operation was purchased by Dallas-based company Suiza Dairy in 2001, but retained its name. A milk contract with Meijer Inc. supplied 90 percent of Dean’s business.
Then, in 2012, Meijer announced its purchase of a dairy facility in Holland, and it became the owner April 1. In July 2012, 45 jobs at Dean Foods were eliminated. In August 2012, the company announced the elimination of more jobs and the end of the facility’s operations. On May 10, 2013, the dairy closed for good.
As the property had come into disrepair over the last year, Szakacs said city looked at acquiring the property.
"We were trying to get that piece of property for redevelopment," he said. "We looked to see if they could donate it or give it to us, and we could look at getting some grants to demolish it. It's a nice little site along the river for somebody."
With a focus on cleaning up the building and surrounding area, Szakacs said the company intends to sell the property.
“They’re working diligently to make it not an eyesore," he said. "They've got some staff there making it look presentable to a future buyer."