Historic buildings at Riverfront Park in North Creek
The Johnsburg Town Board on Tuesday, May 15 agreed to proceed with asbestos testing at one of three buildings at Riverfront Park.
Town Councilwoman Katie Nightingale, who also sits on the Riverfront Park Committee, said the testing is necessary to determine the fate of the middle building at the site. Nightingale described the building as “falling down” and said the committee received an estimate of $150,000 to stabilize the building. That sum would not restore the building, but rather, would stabilize it and prevent it from falling down further.
Whether the town ultimately decides to restore the building or tear it down, it will need to know whether there is asbestos present, Nightingale said.
“Either way, we’ll need to know,” she said adding that the testing is an important first step in the decision-making process. If the town wishes to simply stabilize the building and leave it, testing isn’t necessary. But that option seems unlikely, she said.
The testing will be paid for, on a reimbursable basis, through a First Wilderness Heritage Corridor grant. The town acquired the park, formerly known as the Kellogg property, from the Open Space Institute. As part of that transaction, the First Wilderness Heritage Corridor grant came with it.
Riverfront Park is located southeast of the North Creek Train Station between the railroad tracks and the river. According to its website, the First Wilderness Heritage Corridor master plan envisions several possibilities for Riverfront Park including a New York State ski museum and/or ski hall of fame, an Adirondack cultural museum and visitor center and a farmers’ market. The North Creek Farmers’ Market already uses the property on Thursdays (3-6 p.m.) and will be held from June 14 to Oct. 4 this year.
But first the committee must decide the fate of three buildings on the property. The middle building is in the worst condition and therefore is the first to be evaluated.
Nightingale said that three negative results are required to declare the building to be asbestos-free. Only one positive result is required to confirm the presence of asbestos. Consequently it’s costlier to determine that the property is asbestos-free, she said, even though that’s the more desirable result in the long run.
Town resident Bob Nessle questioned the wisdom of spending grant money to conduct asbestos testing when it seemed obvious that the building should be torn down. He reminded the board that even though it was grant money, whether it be state or federal, ultimately the money was taxpayer money and should be used judiciously.
Town Councilman Eugene Arsenault clarified the intent of the testing.
“Am I correct in that we’re trying to get our arms around the condition of the building?” Arsenault said, so as to determine what to do, whether it be tear it down or restore it?
“That’s correct,” Nightingale said.
If testing reveals the presence of asbestos, it will need to be removed before the building can be either restored or demolished.
Nightingale said engineers have estimated a cost of about $500 for the testing, a sum that will be reimbursed through the grant. The amount represents the cost of the testing materials. The technical labor to conduct the testing is being donated by the firm Nightingale works for, Hanson VanVleet LLC where Nightingale is a geologist.
The testing will determine whether there is either friable or non-friable asbestos in the building. Nightingale explained that “friable” means the asbestos is in a form that is easily dispersible into the air and therefore easily inhaled and therefore more dangerous. Non-friable means that the asbestos is embedded in material that keeps it from dispersing into the air.
After confirming that there is money available to front the cost of the testing until the grant reimburses the town, Councilman Arnold Stevens put forth a motion to move forward with the testing. The vote to approve the motion was unanimous.
In other news, Town Secretary Cherie Ferguson announced that a Red Cross Blood Drive will be held at Tannery Pond Community from noon until 5 p.m. on May 21. Those wishing to donate blood should call 1-800-RedCross to schedule an appointment. All those donating will be eligible to enter a raffle for a $50 Lowe’s gift card.
The Johnsburg Town Board will meet next in regular session on June 5 at 7 p.m. at the Wevertown Community Center.