City block giving way for pond

Gary B. Gray • Oct 2, 2012 at 9:46 PM

Take one last look.

In roughly three weeks, your reminiscing and recollecting will be void of any visual aid.

Six buildings bounded by West Market, Boone, King and Montgomery streets, including the property formerly owned by City Commissioner Jane Myron known as Black Tie Formal Wear, are being demolished and the remains will soon be headed to the recycling bin or trash heap.

Johnson City’s E. Luke Greene Co. is making short work of the old buildings to clear a path for a surface retention pond that will act as one link in the city’s long-term flood mitigation plan.

“We started the first of last week with asbestos abatement, and we’re working our way down the block (Market),” said Marty Altizer, the company’s project manager. “Demolition of the triangular-shaped building near Montgomery began last week, and all that remains are piles of brick. We’ll probably be done with abatement by the middle of next week. In about three weeks, we should have the entire site down to where we’re just doing final cleanup.”

The second building to go, 214 W. Market St., should be completely down by the end of the week.

An environmental review of the buildings was completed in August, and the city began removing cans of paint thinner, chemicals and old medical supplies and searched the buildings for any remaining hazardous materials.

The company was awarded the $218,000 asbestos abatement and demolition contract on Sept. 6, and a few weeks later fencing was placed around the perimeter of all buildings and asbestos removal began.

“Most of the buildings don’t have a lot of stuff left in them, just wood and brick,” Altizer said. “We’ll sort that out and probably stockpile the brick. Because at the end of the project, some will be used for fill and some will be hauled away for someone who wants them for historical reasons.”

In September 2011, the City Commission approved a resolution establishing fair market value for the six properties equaling roughly $1 million that are needed to upgrade stormwater improvements generated by flooding on King Creek. The plan includes removing these structures to provide retention areas that could hold runoff and let it flow into a lower portion of the creek.

Funding for the acquisitions will come from the city’s stormwater utility fund.

“Once the contract was signed, we owned everything in the buildings,” Altizer said. “We’ll salvage and recycle some metal, but a large portion of the brick will go to the landfill. We’ll recycle the remaining ‘clean brick.’ We’ll also collect refuse in large containers and take them to the landfill. Also, we’ll either sell the heating and air conditioning and heating units or scrap them.”

Altizer said he does not anticipate having to completely close off any street at the site. However, as demolition moves to Boone Street, one lane of traffic may be closed periodically during the day.

The city’s long-term plan originated nearly 10 years ago when heavy downtown flooding prompted the formation of a Storm Water Advisory Task Force and later the Downtown Storm Water Task Force. The result was the targeting of each major drainage basin downtown and in 2007 the establishment of a stormwater fee to help pay for the opening up and rerouting of King and Brush creeks.

In July, commissioners approved borrowing $6 million to pay for three phases of it’s $30 million long-term flood mitigation plan.

The $4.5 million Founders Park project along State of Franklin Road is expected to lead the way. The city is taking bids on construction, which is estimated to cost roughly $3 million. Acquisition and design costs total an additional $1.5 million.

U-Haul is fighting the city in court over the condemnation of the property at 114 W. King St., which would be the center of what is being called the Event Commons. The King Creek retention pond would be built on this site and tie into the city’s in-house project at McClure Street.

The third phase, on which a surface retention pond is planned, is the area now being demolished.

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