Asbestos work set at Wahkonsa Annex

Project to be done by end of year

Hazardous asbestos will be removed from the vacant Wahkonsa Annex in downtown Fort Dodge as a preliminary step toward the eventual demolition of the building.

The City Council on Monday hired REW Services Corp., of Des Moines, to do the work at a cost of $340,270.

The work is expected to be done by the end of this year.

The city previously received a $500,000 grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to pay for the work. Some of that money has already been spent to hire experts to analyze the scope of the asbestos problem and prepare plans for removing it.

Asbestos is a substance that was once commonly used to insulate buildings. Medical researchers have linked it to lung cancer and other lung diseases. In the Wahkonsa Annex, it has been found in the floor tiles, pipe insulation, electrical wire insulation and the drywall compound.

The Wahkonsa Annex is a seven-story building that appears to be part of the adjacent Warden Plaza.

That building was obtained by the city government in 2016 when it also obtained the Warden Plaza under the terms of the state’s abandoned buildings law.

A plan for rejuvenating the north side of First Avenue South between Ninth and 12th streets envisions taking down the Wahkonsa Annex to make way for a parking ramp called an intermodal hub. That intermodal hub would link a renovated Warden Plaza and a planned cultural and recreation center.

But progress on that plan has stalled. The owner of the Warden Plaza, KDG LLC, of Columbia, Missouri, hasn’t done anything with the building since acquiring it in 2016, prompting city officials to threaten to take it back.

The city was unsuccessful in getting a federal grant to help pay for the intermodal hub.

Councilmen Dave Flattery and Andy Fritz were absent from the otherwise unanimous vote to award the contract.

Other bidders for the job were Controlled Asbestos Inc., Des Moines ($354,541); Advanced Environmental Testing and Abatement Inc., Davenport, ($396,000); ECCO Midwest Inc., Hastings, Minnesota, ($420,685); Environmental Property Solutions, Urbandale, ($439,450); Iowa-Illinois Taylor Insulation Inc., Davenport, ($500,174); Site Services Inc., Algona, ($881,300); and Environmental Assurance Co. Inc., Indianapolis, Indiana, ($875,000).


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