The City of Newburgh has set the wheels in motion to demolish ten vacant, city-owned buildings in the East End.
“It has been determined that the buildings are structurally unsafe and pose a threat to public safety,” a state environmental assessment form for the project states.
Vacant buildings due for demolition include three buildings on Johnston Street, two on Third St. and another two on Liberty St. Others include 191 South St, 68 Campbell Street and 161 Lander St.
The Newburgh City Council passed two resolutions moving the demolition project forward at its regular meeting on Feb. 8. Following the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) process, the council declared the city’s intent to serve as lead agency to demolish several buildings in the East End Historic District. The city assumed lead agency status to demolish the remainder of the dilapidated structures.
At a council work session earlier this month, City of Newburgh Engineer Jason Morris explained that, on average, it costs about $80,000 to demolish a vacant city building.
Environmental review must be completed on the properties before the city can authorize funding for the project, Morris said. “The city is proposing $500,000 in the draft capital plan for building demolition throughout the city,” Morris said in an email last week.
The city could knock “more buildings down for the money” if city workers were used for the job, Newburgh Mayor Judy Kennedy said at the work session. “If we don’t have to put this to bid, we can get a whole lot more done,” she said, though workers would need training.
The biggest expense will be hauling and disposal of demolition debris, city Department of Public Works Superintendent George Garrison said. Morris reminded the council that a third party would need to handle any asbestos that is found.
The ten buildings are considered to be among the worst-offending structures in the city. Last year, the city hired a consultant to assess city-owned buildings with serious structural deficiencies, Morris said. The consultant conducted inspections and created a prioritized list of properties to be demolished, he said.
The first phase of the demolition project is anticipated to begin in April.
By SHANTAL RILEY