Moorestown Library demolition projects sees increase due to asbestos

The old Moorestown library once again was found to have asbestos, adding more cost to the demolition project than originally planned for the second time.

Town Council and Moorestown residents expressed displeasure at the news that additional money must be spent on the project, especially considering asbestos was found once already. Township Engineer James Ruddiman assured council there wasn’t much that could have been done to find the asbestos, as destructive testing would have had to been done, which would have been an additional cost regardless.

Due to this, town council approved an ordinance on first reading Monday, Feb. 8 to set aside $160,000 and borrow $152,000 to be used for the removal of asbestos. The public hearing and second reading is scheduled for Feb. 22.

“It is what it is. We would have accrued this expense regardless of who or how this was inspected. I think we’re stuck here,” Mayor Phil Garwood said.

The original contract awarded to Meco Demolition Inc. in October was for $421,000. The township initially put aside $10,000 for asbestos remediation because it expected to find asbestos in the floor tiles and the fire doors, according to Ruddiman.

The project was delayed due to more asbestos being discovered in the adhesive tape used to glue the ceiling tiles to the roof and behind the walls. Council approved a $70,000 change order to remove the asbestos in December and official demolition started in early January.

Following the remediation and demolition, additional asbestos was discovered in a two-foot area on three sides of the basement wall, and the entire basement wall on the fourth side. The contractor said it could remediate the asbestos for $159,412.96.

Council asked if there was a possibility to go out for a lower bid, and Ruddiman said they could, but that would add costs for demobilization and remobilization.

“There is no guarantee there would be lesser prices and, in fact, it could be more,” he added.

Ruddiman said the additional asbestos would not have been able to be found without the township ripping up tiles and tearing down walls prior to demolition.

He also said there was no reason to believe there would have been so much asbestos in the old library, as the old town hall was built at the same time by the same construction company, but the old town hall didn’t have nearly the amount of asbestos that was discovered in the old library building.

The second reading and approval will be at the Feb. 22 Town Council meeting at 7:30 p.m. held in Town Hall.

In other news:

Council approved an ordinance on second reading authorizing the lease of commercial antennas on the North Church Street and Westfield Road water towers. The current lease with AT&T expires in November. The ordinance calls for the continuance of the township’s relationship with AT&T and to allow for the leasing of additional tower space to other carriers in an effort to generate rental income. The minimum bid will be $3,600 for each antenna. The lease would be for five years and may include up to four five-year renewal options for a maximum total term of 25 years.