Cumberland Times-News

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October 29, 2013

No explosives to be used at Memorial

Representatives for hospital demolition project explain process, address concerns

CUMBERLAND — A panel, which included representatives of Ritter & Paratore, the company which will raze the old Memorial Hospital complex, announced Tuesday that the demolition work will begin on Nov. 18 and will not include any used of explosives, wrecking ball work or on-street parking by the demolition crew and its trucks.

“There will be no blasting or implodes. The demolition will be done mechanically,” said Michael Ritter, of Ritter & Paratore.

Around 40 citizens, mainly from the neighborhoods surrounding the former hospital, attended the meeting that was held in the Fort Hill High School auditorium.

Ritter said the demolition work is done mainly by an apparatus called an ultra high reach excavator. He said his company has a five-story and a nine-story model that will be used during the hospital demolition.

“It has steel snips and a brick peeler on it,” said Ritter.

The panel answering citizen questions consisted of Ritter and Allan Wandley of Ritter & Paratore, two representatives from the asbestos abatement company CCAPS Construction LLC, Tim Kauffman of the EADS Consulting Group, along with city engineers Paul DePalatis and John DiFonzo.

DiFonzo acted as the host for the event.

“This matters to me. This is my neighborhood, too,” said DiFonzo, who lives in the vicinity of the former hospital.

The panel fielded questions for nearly an hour, which ranged from traffic and pedestrian concerns to noise and dust pollution.

Ritter told the group that the demolition of the complex will be done in four phases:

• Demolition of the parking decks at the southern edge.

• Asbestos removal followed by demolition of the medical office buildings.

• Asbestos removal followed by the demolition of the main entrance and the east and west wings.

• Asbestos removal followed by demolition of the center wing and south wing.

The eight-acre parcel will be smoothed and planted with grass to leave the tract as a green site, according to Ritter.

“I thought it was a very productive meeting,” said Mayor Brian Grim, who attended the event.

“It was good to see so many concerned folks out getting their questions answered,” said Grim.

One citizen asked about the traffic problems that could occur with the trucks coming in and out of the site.

“We are aware of those potential concerns. That is why we stagger the schedule for the trucks,” said Ritter.

Ritter said the trucks are brought in by a rotating schedule, with one coming in about every hour, so that they are not arriving all simultaneously.

Another citizen was concerned that the demolition workers, with their vehicles and trucks, would be parking on the street.

“There is ample parking on the site. None of our personnel or trucks will need to utilize the street,” said Ritter.

Dust was the concern of another attendee.

Ritter explained that the company uses a dust suppression system that sprays a wall of mist in the air to capture dust. He said they also use hoses to spray the buildings during the work.

The demolition panel explained that, while noise from the site is kept in line with state-mandated decibel levels, some noise will be experienced during crushing of brick and concrete.

Ritter said crushers are used to pulverize the concrete and stone so it may be used for back-fill material.

The contract for the demolition project is for one year.

“We hope it doesn’t take us that long. It will really depend on what kind of winter we’ll have,” said Ritter.

Another citizen was concerned about parking for events once construction starts and when it is finished. The resident said that the former hospital lots are used extensively by area residents and for overflow parking during games at Greenway Avenue Stadium.

DiFonzo said that the city has to be primarily concerned about having a green site to market to potential buyers of the parcel. He said that concerned citizens could petition the city asking for part of the tract to be used for parking in the future.

The hauling route for trucks importing and exporting material to the site will include Williams Street and Messick and Willowbrook roads. One citizen felt that those routes would be not handle the trucks.

The officials said that the staggered truck schedule would keep the traffic to a minimum. DiFonzo said the city will monitor any damage done to any city street to be sure they are repaired and patched as necessary.

The officials also said that the site will use fences around the work areas and that sidewalks will be kept open when possible.

“We will try to be sure sidewalks remain open. However, safety is also our first priority,” said Ritter.

Greg Larry can be contacted at glarry@times-news.com

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