City to test demolition sites for lead

This month the city will start testing air and soil at demolition sites for lead and evaluate whether to take measures to reduce dust.

If it has to require water treatments or other action, that could increase the cost of demolishing more than 1,100 structures on its dangerous building list, said Nathan Pare, property conservation manager.

The testing is in response to a recent Kansas City Star article that raised the issue.

If high levels of lead are found to be a problem because of old lead paint, Pare said, steps will be taken.

“Before we spend millions in tax dollars we want to be sure there is this huge alarm,” he said.

They will test about 30 or 40 sites for air quality before, during and after demolition, he said, along with doing soil tests.

Since 2010, dangerous buildings have cropped up faster than the city can knock them down, increasing by about 100 a year. Funds from the half-cent park sales tax doubled demolition money last year to about $1.7 million and the city is trying to catch up.

Demolition is targeted to houses in the Green Impact Zone, roughly Troost to Prospect avenues, 39th to 51st streets, and around where the new east patrol police station and crime lab is being built, Bruce R. Watkins Drive to Benton Boulevard, 23rd to 31st streets.

It currently costs about $6,500 to $7,000 to demolish houses, Pare said, but that could increase greatly if the city has to require contractors to use water spray to reduce dust.

Many of the houses were abandoned or lost in foreclosure and stripped of copper and plumbing and severely damaged, he said.

The city is working toward a five-year plan to demolish 1,000 buildings, he said, but that has not taken into account higher costs.


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