The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is preparing to remove asbestos from the long-vacant Marquette School by August, and the city of Kewaunee is working to secure federal Community Development Block Grant and local funding for the estimated $1.2 million cost of razing the deteriorating structure at 317 Dorelle St.
The City recently released the required Environmental Review document on the building , which is a requirement of the CDBG grant.
According to the EPA, “The Site housed a K-12 community school from 1915-1999. Since the school closed, ownership transferred numerous times. Building demolition and redevelopment has been hindered by the extensive amount of asbestos in the building. Improper salvaging operations and trespassing have damaged the asbestos creating a respiratory hazard. Other environmental concerns in the building include abandoned containers, waste oil, lead, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and mercury. The building has fallen into disrepair. The roof is partially collapsed, further limiting work that can be safely conducted in the building. The City of Kewaunee posted warning signs notifying site visitors of the dangers posed by the contamination.”
Mayor Sandi Christman released an update Monday night, which is reproduced below:
Marquette School Update
The old Marquette School in Kewaunee has had multiple owners since its 1999 sale by the Kewaunee School District for $12,000. The building’s previous owners have removed many of the buildings assets and allowed it to deteriorate, including a partial roof collapse, to the point of being structurally unsound. Consequently, restoration is unfeasible and the building must be demolished.
Sec. 14-86. – Unsafe buildings regulates the razing of buildings by the City. The section reads: “Whenever the building inspector finds any building or part thereof within the city to be in his judgment so old, dilapidated or out of repair as to be dangerous, unsafe, insanitary or otherwise unfit for human habitation, occupancy or use, and so that it would be unreasonable to repair the same, he shall order the owner to raze and remove such building or part thereof, or if it can be made safe by repairs, to repair and make safe and sanitary or to raze and remove at the owner’s option. Such order and proceedings shall be as provided in Wis. Stats. § 66.0413.”
The estimated cost for demolishing the building ranges from approximately $700,000 to $1.2 million.
On Sept. 9, 2016, the City of Kewaunee was awarded a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) in the amount of $500,000 which requires a 58 percent match or $690,810 dollars. The City has been working with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Kewaunee County and the School District on ways to come up with the required match. Mayor Sandi Christman stated that “There have been ongoing dialogues with the County, School District and City to develop a community solution to a community problem.” The City has received verbal commitments from the EPA and Kewaunee County to help offset a large portion of the match requirement with in-kind services, but the City is still working on developing proposals and seeking assistance to meet the full amount of match requirement. The School District informed us they are “not authorized to use public funds allocated for the school operations and educational services for another purpose, the remediation of a privately held building and property.” With the grant match challenge we are facing, we have made a request to the Wisconsin Department of Administration to reduce our match from 58 percent to 50 percent.
In 2016, the EPA provided General Notice of Liability Letters to all past owners and found “no evidence showing there were liable, viable parties for the site. If a viable responsible party is identified, the EPA will pursue cost recovery for the EPA-financed removal action.”
The Environmental Protection Agency is scheduled to work on the building this summer to remove friable asbestos. The EPA’s work should be completed by August 2017.
The City has currently released the required Environmental Review document on the building , which is a requirement of the CDBG grant. You can find this document on the City’s webpage. Hard copies can be obtained at City Hall.
The city does not own the building at this time. There are actions we can take to acquire the building defined by the CDBG grant or by the County taking possession of it and handing it over to the City.
The longer we wait, the more expensive it will be to raze this building. We have a grant match opportunity currently in hand. If we do not use this grant, we jeopardize our ability to apply for other CDBG grants in the future for other community projects.
The City is proceeding with finding matching funds for its CDBG grant. There is high likelihood the City will have to borrow the remaining grant match funds. Sandi Christman, Mayor of the City of Kewaunee said “Our community is facing the challenge of bringing down a condemned vacant building safely. The city is in the process of seeking additional partners who can provide in-kind and cash funds to meet the match requirement.”