Smoke Stack Marked For Demolition

ST. MARYS — A long-standing inhabitant of the skyline of the city of St. Marys will be torn down in the coming weeks.

During Monday night’s special session of the St. Marys City Council, Interim Safety-Service Director Greg Foxhoven said plans are moving forward to demolish the smoke stack of the former power plant. The smoke stack, which had its future debated for months, is now coming down because officials fear it now may be structurally unsound.

“The status of the smoke stack has changed,” Foxhoven said. “A band broke ... everyone agreed that it’s in the best interest to take it down.”

The bid submitted by a company last year for $116,000 will be honored. Foxhoven said he hopes work can start by the end of the month.

“The bands were placed there to keep the stack from bulging,” Foxhoven told The Evening Leader after the meeting. “Our concern is that if one band broke, and they were installed at the same time, that the rest of them will soon follow. It’s a 4-inch steel band.”

The site has been roped off and barricades have been put in place to keep the public away from the location. Foxhoven stressed the important staying clear of the stack until it can be demolished.

“We don’t know what’s holding it up or how stable it is,” Foxhoven said. “So as a precaution, we roped off an area below the stack in case it falls. If we were able to get up there and get it down, we would. However, we don’t have the means to do that. We are going to try to get a hold of the contractor to get them to start as soon as possible.”

The process also has started to demolish the former power plant. Quotes are being solicited for an asbestos survey, which will let officials know how much asbestos must be removed from the site before demolition can start.

“Once that quote is in, we will present that information to council and see where we go from there,” Foxhoven said. “Once the asbestos is out, we can start the process of taking down the power plant. Our main goal is to get the stack down first.”

Councilors approved, under suspension of rules, an emergency ordinance to appropriate deficiencies in the original budget to 2013. The bulk of the appropriation is to fund a trip to Japan for four city officials —  Mayor Pat McGowan, Development Manager Susan Crotty, City Law Director Kraig Noble and Council President Dan Hoelscher. The delegation is slated to visit to business officials who have operations in the city. Another component of the trip would be for officials to travel to St. Marys’ sister city of Awaji City. The trip is scheduled for April 23 to May 1.

The first reading of the legislation was held during the March 11 council meeting. At that meeting, the measure received a 5-1 vote, with Ron Ginter voting against the legislation. Ginter’s vote against the measure defeated a request to suspend the rules. During Monday night’s meeting, the measure passed by a 6-1 vote, with Ginter again casting the lone dissenting vote.

The next regular meeting of the St. Marys City Council is scheduled for 7 p.m. March 25 at the city building located along East Spring Street.