Asbestos found in Uptown Kingston canopies

Source: Daily Freeman, Kingston, NY, March 23, 2011

Contractors working on refurbishing the sidewalk canopies in the city’s Uptown business district have found asbestos that will have to be removed, Mayor James Sottile said on Tuesday.

Sottile said the amount of asbestos is unknown and that a deeper examination will be needed.

The mayor said he does not believe the discovery will significantly delay the project, which is to be completed in August, but that specially licensed asbestos-removal experts will need to be hired.

“It is a hoop we will have to jump through, but I don’t think it will bring the project to a screeching halt,” Sottile said.

It was not immediately clear whether the asbestos removal will add to the of the $1.7 million cost of project, which started last week.

Asbestos long was used as insulation in construction projects because of its ability to absorb sound and resist heat, electrical and chemical damage. But it was linked to cancer in the 1970s, its use was discontinued, and it now must be removed when found.

Sottile, referring to the sentiment among some people in Kingston that the canopies should be torn down rather than refurbished, noted that professional removal of the asbestos would have been required even if the current work was a demolition project.

The mayor also said the architectural plans for the canopy work indicated there was no asbestos in the structures on Wall and North Front streets.

He said asbestos was found after contractors began working on the canopies on the block of North Front Street between Wall and Fair streets.

The refurbished canopies will feature pitched roofs (the current roofs are flat), skylights, new columns and additional lighting. The sidewalks beneath the canopies also will be refurbished.

The canopies are known locally as the Pike Plan. They were named for Woodstock artist John Pike, who designed the canopies and oversaw their construction in the 1970s. Today, the canopies are in a state of disrepair, in part because of poor drainage.

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