Fire site cleanup scheduled

Published 10:12 am Friday, July 17, 2009

If plans stay on schedule, the fire-ravaged section of downtown Austin could be cleared by October, the city engineer said Thursday.

Jon Erichson said environmental work, which would largely involve asbestos removal, is targeted to begin by Aug. 24. Demolition would then be scheduled to begin Sept. 7 and wrap-up by Oct. 2.

When done, the Main Street lot will be leveled and covered with grass seed.

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To get to that point, the city needs to first find someone to do the work. Bids are expected to be opened July 28, Erichson said, and the city council will likely award a bid at its Aug. 3 meeting.

The bidding process is subject to review by Maria Leon, owner of the Mia Tierra properties that make up most of the site, because of a legal settlement.

That settlement was made June 23 in Mower County court and stipulates that Leon will ultimately be assessed the cleanup costs.

The city, which deemed the site “hazardous,” passed a resolution on May 4 calling for Leon to clean up the site, which she did not originally respond to.

The damage occurred during a Jan. 15 fire that ravaged downtown and required the help of firefighters from multiple cities.

In February, police and fire officials announced that they suspected arson. That investigation is ongoing and no suspects have been named publicly.