Still sorting out the details

Republic Hotel block demo is filling cells at landfill faster than expected

By Deb Hadachek Telescope editor

Local government officials who thought they finally had all the details sorted out about the Republic Hotel block saga discovered this week not everything is sorted out.

How the debris is sorted when it arrives at the landfill–or lack therof– is a point of contention between county highway administrator Dusty Zenger and Belleville city manager Neal Lewis.

Zenger said he thought “clean rubble”–bricks, concrete, stones and uncontaminated soil–would be separated from wood, plaster and other building materials in the demolished buildings.

Instead, the contractor hauled mixed loads to dump at the county construction and demolition site south of Belleville. That filled the current cell at the landfill twice as fast as Zenger expected–and may also nearly completely fill a new cell under construction.

“I thought we would only have 50 percent of the material we’ve had,” Zenger said.

City street superintendent Brian Phillips estimated there may be 6,500 yards of debris from the 1700 block of M. At the price quoted to the city by Zenger, that means the city may owe the county more than $24,000 in landfill fees.

“We’re over $200,000 that the city has put into this project. No one else has put in two cents,” he said.

“It’s been an arduous duty to get these buildings down. I’ve dealt with the court, with the people who owned the buildings, bids from contractors, getting the asbestos out.

“I thought we were at the point where our trials and tribulations were done.”

After Lewis and Phillips left the commission meeting, commissioners asked Zenger to estimate actual costs for labor and equipment to open the new cell at the landfill and monitor loads. Zenger said labor costs are $19 to $22 per hour for salary and benefits for four employees.

Commissioner Ed Splichal suggested the county consider only recouping costs for opening the new cell, rather than the $4 per yard the county usually charges to accept debris.

He noted that the county briefly owned the Republic Hotel by virtue of a no sale at the county delinquent tax sale, and the city accepted the building back once hurdles were cleared for the demolition.

Demo stalled

Demolition halted Monday, March 13, with two floors of the former bank building still standing. Phillips said the contractor rented a large excavator for the majority of the project, but believes the limestone building can be taken down with a smaller excavator.

The question of whether material needs to be sorted differently may force the contractor to take down the remaining building differently, he said.

The contractor filled the basements of the building with rubble to provide a base to work from, but that material will all be removed from the site, he said.

Belleville city sent crews to help the county open the new cell at the landfill. Zenger said weekend rain slowed progress on the new cell, which must be inspected before it can accept materials.

Lewis said the city did not plan to charge the county for labor and equipment to help open the new cell at the landfill.

“I thought that’s just how we work together,” he said.