Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Two more Northern Utah Print Media Columns Pan the Godfrey Adminstration's Plan To Torch the Derelict Leshemville Properties

A salute to the Ogden City Council for its wisdom in decling to act rashly in this matter

There are two more hard-hitting columns this morning from the Northern Utah print media, criticizing the Godfrey administration's plan to torch the forty or so derelict residential properties in Ogden's Leshemville riverfront slum:

1) Thanks to tips from two gentle readers, we'll direct our readers to yesterday's Salt Lake Tribune editorial, which highlights the strong public health objections of the Utah medical community:
Burning issue
2) Charlie Trentelman also gets into the act this morning, fine tuning the public health issue from the personal perspective of an asthma sufferer, and arguing that the fire demolition proposal doesn't save money in the long run, but rather shifts "shift[s] costs to the sick and elderly":
Ogden's idea of burning vacant houses burns my lungs and my wallet
During the last council work session go-round, the city council deferred a decision to adopt the fire demolition plan, and put the matter over for more study. Although Weber County Forum had earlier gone on record as approving the plan, we'd like to salute the Ogden City Council for its wisdom in declining to act rashly in this matter, and waiting to gather further information on the unintended public health consequences.

Don't let the cat get your tongues, O Gentle Ones.

Update 8/19/10 8:38 a.m.: The Salt Lake Tribune is falling all over itself reporting this story. Here's the latest from the SLTrib's Cathy McKitrick:
38 structures Ok’d to burn, but is it safe and cheap?


H. L. Mencken said...

Now that the Trib and Trentelman have stuck their necks out, perhaps the cowards on the Standard's editorial board will summon up the courage to disagree with Godfrey for once....?

Naah. They'll play it safe and ignore the issue.

Curmudgeon said...

Unfortunately, HL, the SE has already printed an editorial on the proposed burning. It ran on 18 July. Here's what it said:

The Ogden Fire Department's request to burn the vacant homes in the Ogden River Project area for firefighters' training purposes is a great idea that Junction City leaders should fund as soon as possible.... There are simply no negatives to this plan to demolish the structures. It helps with the River Project, trains firefighters and makes the community safer. It's time to move it forward, Ogden council.

"No negatives." Let us be charitable and assume that the Editorial Board spoke in haste, and before the medical community began to explain just how many negatives, and just how toxic all of them were, the burning of the Leshemville slum would involve. Perhaps, in light of what the Board knows now [or should] a different editorial, one not done in haste and before all the relevant evidence was in, will be forthcoming.

fire ops said...

If you think about it, the Fire training would actually be minimal. Those houses are in such bad condition that a real live fire training exercise would put firefighters in danger.

A normal house fire would include room and contents, and not have holes in walls floor and ceilings to allow fire to act in unnatural ways, speeding the spread of the fire, and causing unsafe conditions.

The Fire training would most likely be start the fire and stand back and watch how fast they burn.

If I was the training officer at the fire department I would not allow firefighters to enter those dangerous buildings while they are burning for no reason. They wont be occupied, and they are empty and torn up there is nothing to save, except Gadi's ass from having to tear them down.

Curmudgeon said...

Something else worth pointing out. On Tuesday, 3 August, the Godfrey administration presented its plans for burning the Leshemville slum to the City Council at a work session. [The Standard Examiner's report on the work session is here.]

The SE reported that one Council member, former Council Chair Amy Wicks, expressed opposition to the plan on health grounds. From the SE story:

However, City Councilwoman Amy Wicks said she doesn't like the idea of the fires exposing residents to harmful airborne materials. "I don't feel good about putting that in the air in Ogden," she said.

Ms. Wicks is a candidate for the Weber County Commission. It might serve the residents of Weber County well to have on that three-member body someone like her who thinks research should come before a public body reaches conclusions and approves actions, someone who is not bedazzled by slick presentations by interested parties and whose general operating principle as an elected representative seems to be "Let's take a good long look at this [i.e. whatever's before the Commission], and lets think about what unintended consequences it might have, and lets make sure we have asked all the questions we need to ask, and get all the information we need to get first, before we decide."

David S. said...

Prior to and therefore irrespective of the mentioned editorials, I asked the city council not to burn the homes.

Burning simply transfers trash from the ground to the air.

Another key point that nobody has mentioned, is relating to the idea of putting a lien on the property to recover cost of demolition:

Typically such liens come with a punitive INTEREST RATE to encourage the land owner to reimburse the lien holder or to encourage a timely resolution of the issue, ie a lien auction to sell the property to recover the costs. Typically this auction allows the property to fall into the hands of the lien holder, in this case, the city.

The homes should be removed, not burned, a lien applied, with a stiff interest rate, and at some time in the near future the land should be auctioned to recover the cost of the lien. If the city wishes to be the high bidder, then they deduct the value of the lien from their bid.

H. L. Mencken said...

Curmudgeon: Thanks for the reminder. I hereby amend my final sentence to: "They'll play it safe and say nothing more about the issue."

tom said...

Another point is the so called "developer" is a known crony of the mayor's and is the case with most dealings of the mayor with his cronies the tax payers end up getting stuck with the bills.

I'm betting dollars to donuts that when the smoke clears regardless of what methods are used and how much it costs, this notorious California crook and crony of the mayor's will skate out without paying a dime on any of this.

caddyhack said...

Burning those buildings will create air and soil pollution. When the wind blows, after the burn, the soil pollution will become air pollution.

Deconstructing the buildings is the responsible thing to do.

Curmudgeon said...

Off topic, but it came from Ogden city so....

My city utilities [water, trash] bill just came. In it is what seems to be a coupon from the Historic 25th Association. It declares:

Night Out: Redeem this voucher in person or visit us on line for a list of events, participating merchants and offer COUPONS"

OK... a coupon good for... what? It doesn't say. Nary a hint. Just says redeem with no hint of what you can redeem it for. And the text seems to have been badly done as well. [The hanging quote marks in the text cited above is in the original.]

I doubt I'll be using the coupon, whatever it may be for [anyone finds out, let me know, ok?] since it was the merchants and shopkeepers and restaurant owners listed on it who got the UTA bus I used to ride to Historic 25th removed from the street. Apparently they thought I was not the Right Kind of People for their stores. They don't want my custom, fine with me. Other merchants do.

But seems to me, if I were a merchant offering a coupon to build business, I might want to let folks know what the coupon was for. Just a suggestion.

I also wonder if the Historic 25th Association paid the city a fee to have its advertising for its private businesses distributed in the city utilities envelope to all homeowners in Ogden.

Just wondering....

Anonymous said...

The American attitude: send it away, out of sight, and it simply goes away. Wash it down stream, throw it into the sea, burn it.

Everywhere humans go, they seem to not be able to resist the urge to set stuff on fire.

I am reminded of being a scout in the late 60's, and having to watch my idiot scoutmaster insist on having a camp fire, in the middle of the day on a hot afternoon, for no other reason than to burn stuff.

It is insanity that not everyone on the planet is an environmentalist to the core. Godfrey wants to make our city into !AdventureCityOgden!
Ask any of the major players in the Individual Sports Competition Scene what they would think of torching 40, count them, forty homes, for no other reason than to save the work of demolishing them responsibly and recycling the waste. I can tell you, the Adventure Sports Community would say he was a greedy man-child with bad, bad, karma.

Capitalist Pig-Man tried to ruin the world with filth, sloth, and greed. Saving money by polluting the air is not a long term scheme towards a higher good. It is evil and an affront to the gods.

We want our country forward.

Player, not a fan said...

As mentioned earlier the false premise being used by the mayor and his fire department lackey Mathieu are that this will be invaluable training for the firefighters. Because of the state of these buildings, safety regulations regarding training burns and time constraints, no interior firefighting will be done. Interior firefighting is where the job gets done in accomplishing a firefighters absolute priority of saving lives and is very difficult to replicate in training without undue risk to firefighters and trainers. With all of the abandoned derelict buildings in Ogden you wonder why live fire training has not been a priority of the fire administration for years. The only sanctioned live burns that have been done in Ogden in the past 20 years are, you guessed it, a couple of the properties in Leshemville last year. This fails the duck test on so many levels it is offensive to think those in charge expect us to buy it. Although compared to many of the little lords antics over the years I would only give this one a 6 out of 10.

Monotreme said...

Don't tell Mayor Godfrey about this, or he might burn Ogden into the shape of a high-adventure animal (and likely fiddle while he does so).

ozboy said...

Mr. Monotreme

Great link, thanks.

Now we know where Godfrey gets his ideas on governance!

What animal do you think he will choose in his remake of Ogden? My guess is the Dodo Bird.

you who said...

My guess would be the Weasel, it's a lot like Godfrey.

this is ridiculous said...

Quite honestly, I think the whole idea of burning these homes in Ogden is ridiculous! First let me explain some simple concepts.. These homes contain asbestos.. it costs money to abate it, it cost even more if the building is planned to be burned. Like 4 times the money to be exact! Then you have the issue of the pollution in the air.. Look at what a fire on the mountain does to our air, do I want that in town? Not only no, but h**l NO!Has anyone given thought to the fact that these homes are old and may contain lead paint and copper wire, not to mention the fact that these homes are being used as peoples personal dump sites? DAQ may not regulate it but OHSA sure does! DAQ requires that you water this debris for dust control. Where is that water going to run? This debris will be loaded into trucks driving down our city streets blowing ashes everywhere. Do you want to be behind that truck? I think the city should stick to the traditional mode of demolition and get with the program. We've been funding Mr. Lesham for years and not gotten our money, it's time to take him out of the equation and involve the local entrepenures that having been begging to develope.Put our money back into those Ogden businesses that have carried us for so long and get on with it instead of sending our money to California!

blackrulon said...

If we make it official policy to burn abandoned or derelict buildings Ogden could make the famous Chicago fire look puny. The people of the impacted neighborhood and indeed all of Ogden deserve not to be subjected to this environmental pollution. Fire Greiner and use the savings to remove the abandoned hoiuses the safe and proper way.

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