Hayden cleanup causes concern

Published 8:06 am Wednesday, June 24, 2009

FRANKLIN— Cleanup at the former Hayden High School is turning out to be costly and dangerous, City Manager June Fleming said.

“It’s not a pretty picture nor a pleasant task,” Fleming said at Monday night’s City Council meeting about the school, a 57-year-old building on Oak Street that is being sold to a private, nonprofit organization for renovation into a multi-purpose facility . “There’s everything in there. There is mold. There is asbestos.”

According to Taylor Williams, the city attorney, there were rooms filled with documents, piled as high as five feet and some dating back as far as the late 1960s. Documents with sensitive information have to be destroyed.

“There is no cheap way to do it,” he said.

Mayor Jim Councill inquired about selling the “surplus property” from the building to help lessen the financial blow of paying for its cleanup, however, Williams is doubtful that the property would bring in significant revenue.

“I don’t see that there is anything that we are going to sell and get any value out of,” Williams said.

Fleming said that she was unaware of any funds being set aside for the removal of the surplus items from the building and that she has been told that some items will be “extremely expensive to dispose of” — including highway barriers and a diesel engine. She warned council members that she will likely come back with a budget amendment to pay for cleanup and removal of items from the building. She also noted that employees were being diverted from their normal tasks to help with the cleanup.

“We have people from all divisions of public works working in there,” Fleming said. “They are not doing the other things that they need to be doing.”

In other budget news, Franklin Power & Light had a shortfall of $839,264 in May, according to monthly financial report figures. However, Dexter Trump, director of Power & Light, said that there is no cause for concern.

“We’re doing fine,” he said, noting that this report was only for the month of May. He said that if the entire fiscal year is considered, Power & Light has made a profit of $1.8 million.

According to Trump, Power & Light’s monthly figures may be skewed because of uncontrollable factors that affect demand for electricity, including changes in temperature or the economy.

“We’ve had some businesses shut down that hurt in the long run,” he said.

The figure for May was “unusually high,” according to Trump, but it isn’t unusual for Power & Light’s expenditures and income to fluctuate in either direction from month to month.