Niagara Falls, NY – A number of homes in Niagara Falls neighborhoods, some of them just blocks away from an area of the city frequented by tourists, are slated for demolition in order to eradicate vermin and remove asbestos-containing materials.
The city has received a grant of $200,000 from the Housing and Urban Development department, which has allocated the money through the Neighborhood Stabilization Program. The city has already earmarked over $1 million to pay for the planned demolitions and more than double what was spent last year. Community development funds, as well as profits made by the city’s participation in the Seneca Niagara Casino, contribute to that amount.
Fifty homes, mostly in the South End of the city, have been targeted. The City Council has requested that derelict homes in or near areas visited by tourists be bumped up to the top of the list. The council is working hand-in-hand with organizations such as the Niagara Falls Block Club Council, whose president, Robert Miller, admits that this area is in pretty bad shape.
Block club members have also been asked to identity derelict buildings and submit their addresses to the inspection officials. According to these officials, one out of every five city homes is in bad enough shape to warrant either renovation or demolition.
Whether the homes contain asbestos material will help determine the cost of demolition. Asbestos, a naturally occurring fibrous mineral which has been used as an additive to building materials, is a known carcinogen. Although widely used in the past due to its ability to resist heat, fire, water damage, electricity and other biological processes, it has largely been phased out in new constructions because of its ties to several deadly diseases. Yet a high number of existing infrastructures still contain the material.
When it is stable and undisturbed, asbestos remains relatively safe. If it is disturbed in any way, however, as it would be during remodeling or demolition projects, the microscopic fibers within the asbestos may become airborne. Once breathed in by humans, they become lodged in the body’s soft tissues, where they may lie dormant for years only to erupt decades later as a potential pleural disease, asbestosis, or the aggressive cancer mesothelioma.
For this reason, only certified asbestos removal experts should be involved in demolition efforts, and certain safety precautions such as masks and other protective clothing, proper disposal procedures, and ongoing air-quality testing need to be followed. This, of course, makes the demolition of an asbestos-containing structure more expensive than an ordinary demolition.
The city of Niagara Falls has budgeted between $350,000 and $475,000 in past years for derelict building to be demolished. The city may also bill homeowners for the expenses of demolishing their property.