Friday, July 09, 2010

Fire Chief Proposes Burning Vacant Ogden Homes

It's time to quit shooting the bull on this... time for the worthless drones in the overly-bloated Economic Development Department to accomplish something useful for once

We took the day off yesterday, but for the sake of archival consistency we'll make note of yesterday's Standard-Examiner story, wherein Scott Schwebke reports the latest angle on the Administration's plan to demolish the forty or so abandoned and derelict residential residential structures within the Leshemville fire trap (River Project):
Fire chief proposes burning vacant Ogden homes
Notably, even in a scenario where it's proposed that the Ogden Fire Department may do the initial demolition by fire, the projected price tag keeps going up. Even as late as June of this year, Economic and Community Development Department manager Richard McConkie estimated this demolition and site prep could cost as much as $500,000. The projected price tag now: $564,000. Even that figure is "fuzzy" however, inasmuch as "the cost of debris removal won't be known until after the homes are burned," says Chief Mathieu.

Seems to us that the cost of hauling the rubble from this demolition ought to be readily calculable, assuming there's somebody in Ogden City government who can do the relatively simple math. The volume of material could be easily calculated for each of the residential structures. The price list for landfill dumping is available online. Surely there's somebody in the Ogden City Public Works Department who'd be able to calculate labor costs, assuming the job would be done by the city in-house. Same with fuel expenses. Same with Fire Department labor expense. Surely Ogden City already has the equipment, bulldozers and large end dumps, so equipment costs would be relatively negligible.

Although we're concerned that Chief Mathieu's plan may raise air quality issues which haven't been anticipated by what appears to be a highly compliant Utah Division of Air Quality, we also believe this project is of sufficient importance that it should be right there "on the front burner," so to speak.

Our suggestion to Boss Godfrey: Put those worthless drones in the overly-bloated economic Development Department to work on this right now. Tell 'em to drag out their calculators, get together with OFD and City Engineers and Public Works and crunch the numbers. We're sure the city council will be delighted to allocate the funds to complete this long overdue project post-haste, once relatively firm numbers have been ascertained.

It's time to quit shooting the bull on this. It's time to accomplish something useful for once.

That's our take and we're stickin' with it.

So what say our gentle readers about all this?


althepal said...

Rudi: It's quite likely that there may be hazardous material within the rubble... material that Moulding & Sons Landfill LLC will not accept.

A qualified haz-mat team may be required to remove asbestos, for instance.

I think it's a lot more complicated than it appears to be on the surface.

What about healthy clean air? said...

It looks like there are other communities that do not even allow burning buildings for disposal purposes- and for good reason .

I would guess that most of the homes in the project area have asbestos and other nasty things that could be released into the air.

The Utah DEQ has regulations but I don't think they were written with burning forty structures located within a heavily populated urban area in mind.

Ben Quick said...

The removal of debris and other material from demolition sites is more complicated than one would think. Environmental concerns come into play which limit the landfills that would accept the junk. Burned wood is one thing, but toss in some asbestos, porcelin conductors, the metal that comes from each house (wiring, circuit boxes, radiators, etc.), and before you know it, you have a hodge-podge of s--t on your hands that will take some time finding a place for.

Then there's the dirt and brush that has to go. The cost to demolish a structure and evacuate the remnants can be a lot more than you might suspect. And times that by 40 (isn't that the number of houses to be burned?)

I like the idea of burning the houses instead of the demolition factor. Yeah, the air will take a beating for a few days, but the price of tear down will be better and the Fire Department and "do its thing" when the torch is lit. Hell, the people are burning 'em already and the Long Hot Summer has not even started.

Having some experience in property acquisition and development, one step being preparing the land for the new build out, I was shocked to hear how much demolition and hauling costs..pissed off, actually. But as I came to realize the reality of this part of the developmental process, the $564K actually ain't too bad of a deal.

At least we'd rid the city of a portion of Gadiville and MAYBE even see the River Project begin. MAYBE! Let us pray.

Michael K. said...


Wasn't a resident of the area in question convicted of arson a year or so ago for burning houses down in the name of "getting the project moving"?

All of the environmental concerns aside, if the fire chief is now proposing the same thing that a private citizen was trying to do, should the chief be put in jail too?

(and, I believe the private citizen in question was doing the 'job' at no cost).

I see just a bit of hypocrisy in this, but then again, isn't that the way Ogden's administration always seems to work?

One WhoKnows said...

The City used to come to me for estimates on alot of different projects over the years and after a little research and fact finding, I would estimate my best guess at the time. Most the time, I was pretty close to my numbers. If their number is still fixed at $564,000, pay me the half of mil and the $64K will more than accomplish the task. I'll be waiting to hear from them soon!

caddyhack said...

What a strange idea for a fire chief to propose. Has he taken the time to document the hazardous materials he would be burning. Asbestos, lead paint and other coatings, plastic, vinyl, etc., etc. Perhaps the fire chief should peruse the list of materials that the fire department bans in backyard fire pits.

A lot of children live near "Leshamville", and they breathe almost twice as much air as adults.

Average respiratory rates, by age:

* Newborns: Average 44 breaths per minute
* Infants: 20–40 breaths per minute
* Preschool children: 20–30 breaths per minute
* Older children: 16–25 breaths per minute
* Adults: 12–20 breaths per minute
* Adults during strenuous exercise 35–45 breaths per minute

win-win said...

Just evacuate the few remaining people who haven't already left downtown Ogden for a weekend and burn, baby burn! Just like the mayor did on the Shupe Williams building. No one got sick from the burning toxic materials and Ogden got an insurance payment of a million dollars. A win-win situation!

Quick said...

I think Michael K's logic was thrown out with the uneaten left overs on the plates at Pelatones.

Yeah, let's put Chief Matheiu in jail for his proposal and if he carries it off, we can shoot him.

The only "hypocrisy" is the idea which Michael has thought up and put into words just to see his writings on the blog.

And the One Who Knows..let the Fire Department burn down the 40 houses and then you clean up the mess so the lots are ready for the infrastructure improvments. And make sure you have a signed contract for the $64K and to get the 1/2 mil you have to complete the clean up in the pre-determined time. I'll bet ya a 1/4 of a mil that you don't make it.

Dan S. said...

Swung through Leshem City after hitting the Farmer's Market this morning. Most of the grass and weeds have been cut. I wonder who did that, and whether Mr. Leshem will pay the bill. Still looks terrible. Some of the houses have wide-open doorways.

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