The effort by the city and Montgomery County to create a demolition team took a step forward this week when the Common Council agreed to send five workers from the Department of Public Works to asbestos abatement training.
The county’s Public Works Commissioner Paul Clayburn said the creation of a shared services demolition team has been discussed for more than a decade and this is a large step forward in the idea coming to fruition.
“It’s taken us 12 years to get to this point,” he said Wednesday. “This is a great first step toward making this happen. We are on a course to actually start doing the demolition work.”
Clayburn said officials have approved sending four county workers to asbestos abatement training in May and intends to send four more workers at a later date.
He said once training is complete the team can apply for a contractor’s license from the state Department of Labor to legally remove and dispose of hazardous asbestos, a common hurdle in cleanup of old construction. Asbestos is a mineral that was common in construction during the latter half of the 20th century for its insulation and fire-retardant properties. More recently, it has been determined to cause cancer when friable and airborne.
Clayburn also said equipment will also have to be purchased, including respirators, protective clothing and a decontamination tank for work crews.
“Pretty much everything is on hold until the training has been completed,” he said.
The training will be sponsored by Fulton-Montgomery Community College. Workers will spend five days at training at a cost to the city of $1,300 per worker, which will also cover licensing and mileage reimbursement.
In approving the resolution to send city workers for training, aldermen questioned what the city’s unions would do once the workers were trained.
Clayburn said there are currently no provisions for asbestos work in the county’s contract, which is different than the city’s public works union pact. So, union officials would likely negotiate with city leaders to add compensation for carrying out abatement work, he said.
The city’s Corporation Counsel Gerard DeCusatis said that similar negotiations would be part of a labor management meeting scheduled for Tuesday.
Currently, the county has the necessary equipment to start knocking down homes, but demolition can’t begin without asbestos removal.
“It’d be so easy to show up and knock it down and star hauling stuff away, but we’ve got to be environmental about this stuff,” Clayburn said.
Numerous studies have shown that the city could demolish its old and rundown buildings more economically by utilizing municipal employees, Clayburn said, but the countywide demolition team would be beneficial to the entire county.
“We have a serious problem with dilapidated buildings in this city and I think it’s good that we are moving forward,” Alderman Daniel Roth, R-2nd Ward, said.
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Categories: Schenectady County