Members of the city's Community Development Authority (CDA) were apprised of the situation at their regular meeting last week by Jenny Trick, a manager with the Racine County Economic Development Authority.
Despite the additional six-figure sum, Trick
said contingencies have been put in place by the city to deal with the added expense.
"We all knew – all being defined as consultants, CDA and staff – knew that there would be more quantities found simply due to the fact that a lot of the building was inaccessible due to the mass of material and stored product there," she
Even if the city had waited to have Balestrieri Environmental and Development Inc.
of Elkhorn – which was awarded the asbestos removal contract – perform the assessment after the building had been cleared out, Trick
said the full extent of the asbestos contained within the complex would not have been known.
"The cost increases that are resulting couldn't have been determined unless you started to demolish the building," she
said."So there's no further due diligence that could have been done in advance that wouldn't have resulted in this."
The additional asbestos, according to Trick
, was found in areas that included brickwork comprising a structure within the boiler room.
"That was one of those, 'oh, boy' issues or 'how do we deal with that,"' she
Airborne asbestos particles are known to cause cancer, and removal of the once-popular construction and insulating material is regulated by law.
Already contractors with Balestrieri have completed their removal of asbestos from the dormitory building, one of 23 buildings that comprise the sprawling complex at 320 W. Chestnut St.
While the city was given a $100,000 range as an estimate of the additional asbestos needed to be removed, Trick
said the engineering firm of Kapur & Associates
has been assessing the inside of the property.
"We are now in the process of quantifying those amounts, alongside the asbestos contractor, to verify in fact that the quantities that are perceived to be there and estimated to be there are, in fact, exact," she
said."Then we will continue our negotiation process to make it a reasonable increase."
In addition, officials remain optimistic about recouping some of the costs associated with the environmental work that needs to be performed on the property.
Already the recipient of one state grant totaling more than $42,000, the city is applying for dollars under the federal brownfields program to help defray the demolition cost, estimated at as much as $500,000.
said officials are working diligently on the project in an effort to get the site returned to the city's tax rolls in the form of redevelopment.
Getting the asbestos removed in a timely manner is critical, Trick
said.No demolition work can be performed on the building until all traces of it have been removed.
"We don't want to stall the process, but we want to make sure we're being prudent," she
said, referring to having an outside firm quantifying the additional cost provided to the city.
By Mark Dudzik STAFF WRITER