MOUNT VERNON — Winter brings a lull to labors at Ariel-Foundation Park, but some activity continues around the 175-acre work in progress. As demolition of the industrial site best known as the former home of PPG winds down, some business and residential parcels in the Columbus Road neighborhood have appointments of their own with the wrecking ball.
The Foundation Park Conservancy’s vision extends to the park’s surrounding neighborhood, which is a bit tattered. Some homes date back to the early 1900s, and virtually all are of pre World War II vintage. Standing alongside homes that are well kept by owner-residents are others that are run-down, numerous neglected rental properties and some vacant, uninhabitable structures.
“As a side project, the conservancy has acquired about a dozen dilapidated properties,” administrator Ted Schnormeier said during a recent tour of the parcels. “Under the name Foundation Park/Columbus Road Neighborhood Improvement Project, we want to support the general community.”
Demolition began before Christmas on a dozen homes located on Columbus Road, Delaware Avenue, Frost Alley, Madison Avenue, Miller Street, Monroe Street, Norton Street, Pittsburgh Avenue and Sixth Avenue. Several were obtained simply by settling delinquent tax accounts, while others sold on average for around $50,000. Some parcels were bought from the Francesco Morello-owned companies Budget Mini Storage Inc. and COIP Inc., which owned the 60-acre PPG site purchased by the conservancy almost a year ago. About half of the single-family dwellings were vacant and Schnormeier said none were owner-occupied.
Demolition costs range from $5,000 to $10,000 per property. Messaros Demolition, the same firm retained to take down the PPG Plant, won that contract. Asbestos abatement work costing from a low of $400 to a high of $4,500 per property was awarded to Hart Environmental Resources.
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