Pay dispute stalls St. Joe’s demolition
Published by John on
OTTUMWA IA — A dispute over a contractor’s pay has stalled demolition of the former St. Joseph Hospital, site of a planned new development by Blackbird Investments. Rachel Wegmann, the company’s marketing director, said Blackbird is “working through differences we have with the contractor.”
That matches with what Mayor Tom Lazio, long one of the project’s most vocal backers, said. Lazio was told the dispute focused on overage charges. “They’re pulling off the rest of the equipment,” he said. “It looks like they’ll be hiring another company.”
Demolition of the hospital began July 10. The work proceeded for several weeks, but had seemingly stopped by mid-August. On Aug. 20, Wegmann said the company was “pleased with the work and progress” and that the hospital was coming down “sooner than expected.” At that time she said the company still believed the first homes would be ready by next spring. She said this week the company still plans to keep its timeline. Work on other aspects of the project, including utilities, has continued.
Wegmann and Lazio both denied one of the prominent rumors surrounding the project, that there had been additional asbestos discovered at the site. Removal of asbestos was a preliminary step in the demolition, and requires strict adherence to safety and environmental regulations.
WE HAVE CONTACTED THE COURIER FOR NAME OF DEMOLITION CONTRACTOR TO NO AVAIL. Will make another attempt on Monday through the mayor. I would guess reporting no longer adheres to the 4 w’s who, what, where and why.