YOUNGSTOWN Bureaucracy delays abandoned school's demolition

Red tape often conspires to push public works projects into starting months after awarding contracts.
YOUNGSTOWN -- The city awarded a contract to level the long-vacant Washington School six months ago. Asbestos removal and demolition was to take three months.
Yet, there the giant West Side eyesore stands.
That's because a three-month project doesn't really mean three months in government bureaucracy.
Indeed, the demolition contractor's 90-day deadline on Washington School only expired Tuesday.
Instead, paperwork, legal notices, insurance, meetings and utility work often conspire to push public works projects into starting months after awarding contracts.
The dilapidated school building remains largely because of the red tape required between awarding the contract and starting the project.
"All those elements take time," said Carmen Conglose Jr., deputy director of public works.
The city is talking with Broadway Contracting of Cleveland today about why the building isn't gone, he said. The city grants extensions if there is a good reason for the delay. Penalties are charged if there isn't.
More asbestos than expected complicated the project, Conglose said. Also, the contractor has removed entire walls and other building supports during asbestos removal to hasten demolition, he said. That has pushed back full-scale razing.
Prime example
But Washington School remains a prime example of pre-project delay.
The city awarded a $347,900 contract to Broadway Contracting on June 13.
The city said asbestos removal was to start within a month. The contract called for 45 days of asbestos removal and 45 days of demolition. The building was to be gone and grass planted over the top by mid-October.
Neighbors were ecstatic to hear the news. In 2001, Vindicator readers named Washington School among the area's biggest eyesores.
First, however, there was legal paperwork. The contractor's insurance had to be in place. A preconstruction meeting had to be held.
Utility companies each had to be scheduled to disconnect their lines from the site.
There also was the 10-day Environmental Protection Agency notice about the asbestos project.
Each of those steps is fairly typical in such public works project, Conglose said.
Finally, the contractor needed a letter from the city before starting which acknowledges that all the other red tape is accomplished.
That notice came Sept. 30.
That's how a three-month contract awarded June 13 can have a completion date of Dec. 31.

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