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Brad Will Response

Brad Will Response

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Published by Daily Freeman
Brad Will Response
Brad Will Response

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Published by: Daily Freeman on Aug 14, 2014
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Brad Will

Alderman, City of Kingston
(845) 616-8664 mobile
Facebook-1 • Facebook-2 • Twitter


Three unsafe/abandoned houses have been removed in the City using a $100,000 fund approved
by the Common Council just two months ago. With 50 such properties deemed as unsafe
buildings, the potential cost to remove all could be in the range of $1,500,000, and consume
many years to complete.

We don't have that money, and we never will for this purpose. It is foolish to keep 're-upping'
this account with money that simply won't become available. There must consideration of
creative approaches to this problem, including:

• seizing the properties by eminent domain - even and especially if owned by negligent banks -
and reselling at below market costs or giving them away) to private or not-for-profit developers
willing to bear the costs of site remediation and redevelopment; and

• creating a limited, time sensitive, one-time incentive for property owners to fix their unsafe
buildings and avoid stiff fines and penalties.

We have a 6% solution now in the books - let's devise a 100% solution that is sustainable and
cost effective.


According to the linked source, the national average cost for a house demolition is $8,747,
approximately 26% of the average of the three Kingston demolitions to date. In New York State,
data shows an average of $15,685, still less than half the average of the Kingston jobs. Just over
an hour south in pricey New Jersey, the average is $10,516.

Is there something unique about the torn down properties at 72 Garden St. and on Tompkins St.
that warrants such a high premium on demolition costs? How is it we managed to exhaust a
$100,000 fund in a few months on three buildings?

Data strongly suggests the City may have been able to save $50,000, and possibly much more,
simply if these demolition projects were competitively - and properly - bid.

Another determination prior to tearing down a building is what criteria is used to deem it

Finally - or more accurately INITIALLY - "embodied energy" is a real, measurable
consideration <http://www.greenspec.co.uk/building-design/embodied-energy/?%24>
Destroying structures that may in fact be salvageable consumes a huge amount of wasted energy
- that costs us real money - and could also contribute to landfill mass. It is a "triple loser."

A single 2,000 square foot house teardown consumes the equivalent of 1,408,200 MBTU
(million British Thermal Units) of "lost and spent" energy. An idea of what that abstract figure
represents can be expressed in gallons of gas: 12,245. At the current price of $3.63/gal., the lost
and spent energy comes at a price of $44,500.

Bear in mind this is separate from the $33,333 that went to the demolition contractor, on average,
for the three Kingston properties. In direct opposition to energy conservation and green,
sustainable building philosophy and practice, the real cost for each demolition is closer to
$78,000…a supremely wasteful and indefensible proposition.

If we absolutely must tear down an unsafe building, it is our duty to not spend a single dollar
more than the market dictates. The issue will be revisited in the Common Council.

I would like to see a more creative solution to the expensive and wasteful destruction of
dilapidated properties. Creative solutions could include the simple and inexpensive concept
developed by Archolab for Detroit, which is considering demolition of 40,000 houses:
"repurpose the concrete foundation of a derelict house to build a sunken greenhouse that stays
warm through solar heat gain and insulation of the earth to grow subtropical crops" (figs,
pistachios, mangos, and citrus, to name a few varieties). Source: Architect Magazine

Another idea would be to have a resident/neighborhood-based design and visioning competition
or workshop, allowing the neighbors to share in the redevelopment and future of an empty or
repurposed lot.



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