Demolition of Asbestos-Ridden Homes Strains NY Budget

In recent years, people have left smaller towns in favor of big cities and new opportunities. For the residents of upstate New York, money and job prospects have gone with them. The people who move are also leaving behind a different, more sinister legacy: their asbestos-ridden homes.

Jamestown, New York, is one city which has decreased significantly in population. The Jamestown Post-Journal reports that the vacant properties which remain are often contaminated with asbestos. The process for demolition is long and arduous, expending state time and money. First, a sign is posted on the property and the owner is located and taken to court. If he or she refuses to demolish the house or is unable to pay for it, the court issues a demolition order. Once the order is received, a survey is conducted to identify the existence of asbestos. If it is found to be present in the home, it must be completely removed through an expensive process before the demolition phase can actually begin.

New York State regulations are more stringent than those in some neighboring states, including Pennsylvania. Steve Centi, a city development director in Jamestown, notes that a house demolition that would cost $7,100 in Pennsylvania costs $23,000 in New York. He makes the controversial suggestion that the state lessens its requirements or lift asbestos regulation for a period of time so the city can do a clean sweep in demolishing these homes. His use of the word ‘clean’ strikes many as ironic, as there would be nothing clean about clouds of friable asbestos infiltrating the air of Jamestown residents.

A more salient issue is that the state receives a fee of $4,000 for every demolition performed in New York. Perhaps it would be more effective to diminish or rid this fee rather than relaxing asbestos standards. Either way, it looks like the problems in Jamestown and upstate New York will not go away any time soon. Over 30 houses are on the list to be demolished, but the city only has funds to execute 10 to 12 of these demolitions this year.

Make sure that you know your rights regarding asbestos. If you or a loved one fears you may have been exposed, contact Sokolove Law at our toll free number, 888-360-4215, to learn more about your legal options.