Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Dohoney: Hazard abatement funding too low for large-scale deconstruction program

While Cincinnati's City administration generally supports the use of the careful deconstruction and salvage of blighted buildings, the City lacks the means to do so, according to a recent report from city manager Milton Dohoney Jr.

Dohoney's report is in response to a May 13 motion by councilmembers Greg Harris and Cecil Thomas asking that the City use $160,000 in hazard abatement funds to perform this work, thereby diverting waste materials from landfills.

"The deconstruction process allows items with architectural or antique value to be salvaged and allows debris to be recycled," said a statement accompanying the motion.

But Dohoney says that the cost outweights the benefits, especially considering the large backlog of buildings awaiting City demolition.

"Unfortunately, deconstruction is estimated to cost 30 percent to 40 percent more than typical demolition," he says.

Only $198,000 in hazard abatement funds remain for 2009.

"An allocation of $160,000 for deconstruction would deplete the Hazard Abatement Program reserves earmarked for emergency demolition in the event of partial collapse or any other situation of immediate danger," Dohoney says.

Instead of dedicating funding, Dohoney says that City administration recommends a plan to deconstruct six buildings over the next 12 months, using hazard abatement and Neighborhood Stabilization Program money.

Additionally, Dohoney says that demolitions leading to new construction could be excellent candidates for deconstruction because doing so could contribute to LEED certification for the new project.

The motion also requested that any request for proposal (RFP) for the deconstruction include a job training program for unskilled or unemployed workers.

"Workers learn construction, safety, math, and tool/equipment handling skills that can be applied to other disciplines or trades," the motion's statement said.

Dohoney says that City administration recommends awarding any deconstruction contracts to companies that have a job training element.