Asbestos in Schools News for January 5th, 2009

In ONEIDA, NY, an asbestos abatement project in the old Elizabeth Street junior high school will be completed by November 11, 2008, 8 to 10 months after it began, and then the deconstruction of the building will take place. Ridding the site of the 1930s school of asbestos is the first step in its demolition, which will open the site for redevelopment. The cost of removing the asbestos is $250,000, but this amount will not include engineering fees and air quality testing, but that is a small price to pay to prevent the asbestos from contaminating the environment around the site when the building is torn down. Inhalation of asbestos fibers or particles leads to several lung diseases, many of which, such as lung cancer and mesothelioma , are fatal. Air quality testing during the asbestos abatement and removal will ensure that those living nearby will not be exposed to the deadly fibers from the site of the old school.

Randy Baker, the site’s owner since 2004, had initial plans to turn the site into a senior living facility, but those plans never became manifest. Baker, however, has not paid his taxes on the site for 2007 and 2008. After a third year of unpaid taxes, the city of Oneida will take possession of the property and work with the state’s Office of Parks Recreation and Historic Preservation to make plans for the redevelopment of the site. The city of Oneida is paying the $250,000 asbestos abatement fee and the anticipated $300,000 for the building’s demolition and waste removal. Baker will be billed for these efforts at a later date. The city has decided to undertake the asbestos abatement and deconstruction of the building due to a large number of complaints from nearby residents. The crumbling Elizabeth Street junior high school had become an eyesore and a draw for vagrants and pigeons, both leaving evidence of their stay in the abandoned building. Since the site is located in Oneida’s historic district, plans for the site’s redevelopment must be subject to oversight from the state’s Office of Parks Recreation and Historic Preservation.