County may demolish former JFS building after all

LISBON – Columbiana County commissioners changed their mind again about demolishing the former county welfare office building, deciding to go forward in stages, if the price is right.

Commissioners will be seeking bids to remove asbestos from the county Annex No. 1 building on Nelson Avenue, which housed the county Department of Job and Family Services until the JFS moved into the new county government services building last spring.

Two weeks ago, Commissioner Jim Hoppel announced they were canceling plans to seek bids for demolition of the building after learning it would cost about $250,000 to do so, due in part to the expense of safely removing and disposing of asbestos, a popular fire retardant commonly used in buildings constructed between the 1950s and 1970s. Asbestos has since been found to cause lung cancer and is no longer used.

Hoppel said they changed their mind after speaking with some contractors, who told them they believe the building could be razed for substantially less than the $250,000 estimate. He said the contractor also told them there is more steel in the building than originally believed that could be sold for scrap as part of the deal, thereby reducing the cost to the county.

Based on this information, commissioners decided to seek bids for asbestos removal since that needs to be done before the demolition would occur anyway, plus the fact they already spent $4,320 on an asbestos study to determine the extent of the problem.

“There are certain things that need to get done (before the building can be demolished), and we’re not sure we have enough money to do all of it at once,” he said.

The first step, though, will be to see how much it will cost to remove and dispose of the asbestos, “and then we’ll go from there,” Hoppel said.