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Church prepped for demo

MAAC Inc. of Montevideo trucks are seen Tuesday as crews begin asbestos removal in preparation for the demolition of the deteriorating Mahanaim Church in Willmar. Tribune photo by Gary Miller

WILLMAR -- Asbestos removal is underway in preparation for demolition of the deteriorating Mahanaim Church at the corner of Seventh Street and Litchfield Avenue So-uthwest. Contractor Chad Monson of Willmar, se-cured a demolition permit last week for the work.

MAAC Inc. of Montevideo is removing the asbestos from the 89-year-old building. Dennis Larson, company president, said Tuesday that about a dozen workers are removing the hazardous material. Larson expects the work to be completed by the end of next week.

City Building Official Randy Kardell said MAAC is certified to perform asbestos removal. Approval was given by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. Kardell said the building will come down shortly after the asbestos removal is completed. The U.S. Environmental Protection Age-ncy's website describes asbestos as a mineral fiber that has been used in construction materials for insulation and as a fire-retardant.

Because of its fiber strength and heat resistant properties, asbestos has been used for a wide range of manufactured goods.

When asbestos-containing materials are damaged or disturbed by repair, remodeling or demolition activities, microscopic fibers become airborne and can be inhaled into the lungs, where they can cause significant health problems, according to the EPA.

The building had been sitting empty and was condemned as unsafe. The City Council late last year ordered the owners to either make repairs or have it torn down. However, the congregation said it could not afford to make repairs and had offered to make a gift of the property to the city.

On Monday night, Bruce Peterson, director of planning and development services for the city, told the council that a demolition permit has been issued for the church property.

"It looks like the building will be taken down without the city having to invest city funds in that process,'' he said. "We're very grateful for that.''

Peterson said the owner came to an agreement with a private contractor for a land swap to make the project work.

Peterson also reported on work being done to rehabilitate the former John's Supper Club building, located at the corner of Third Street and Benson Avenue Southwest. City officials have been urging owner Paul Kidrowski to make repairs to the fire-damaged building or have it torn down.

The building dates back to the 1880s and was most recently used as a supper club. The building was damaged by fire on May 15, 1991. Since that time, some interior work was started but was not completed. The council had recently required Kidrowski to submit architectural and engineering drawings to the city for review and approval and that new building permits be issued for the project.

Under an agreement drafted by City Attorney Rich Ronning, Kidrowski agrees to have the work completed by July 1, 2011. Peterson said the owner agreed to have the work completed by a certain date "so that we'd not have the problems we've had in the past with projects dragging on.''

Peterson said work has commenced inside the building "and I see activity there every day. So we're encouraged that that's moving forward as well.''

Kardell told the Tribune that the building will have six apartments on the second floor, an apartment on the main floor and space for a business office. He said the building will be fully sprinkled and alarmed.

Kardell said the time allowed to complete repairs is more than reasonable for the amount of work to be done. Kardell said he hopes the owner will meet the schedule.

"Everybody would rather see that building fixed up than a parking lot,'' Kardell said.

Lutheran Social Service in February had considered acquiring the building for an office, but the agency was financially unable to put the package together, said Kardell.

David Little
David Little covers the Willmar City Council, Willmar Municipal Utilities and other city news.
(320) 235-1150