CATSKILL — The historic building in Catskill that is to become a performing space for Lumberyard Contemporary Performing Arts has been affected by asbestos and the former American Dance Institute is fundraising to aid with the removal effort.
When the property was inspected before ADI purchased the Water Street building, it was deemed asbestos-free. The group acquired the building for $1.2 million in fall 2015, Lumberyard Executive and Artistic Director Adrienne Willis said.
The inspection, which was conducted by an environmental company that Willis declined to identify, was done prior to purchasing the building so Lumberyard could assure that the structure was sound, Willis said.
“We did our due diligence,” Willis said. “It was certainly a setback we’re trying to overcome.”
The asbestos was found on the building’s facade and the roof by a construction company that Willis declined to identify. The company suggested that the building be retested for asbestos, Willis said. It is unknown at this time why the initial asbestos test came back negative, Willis said.
“We’re still trying to get to the bottom of it,” Willis said.
Willis didn’t want to release the name of the company that did the second inspection because the group is still putting out bids for contractors. Lumberyard will be seeking out contractors and see what the lowest-priced options are, Willis said.
“We’ll get quotes from multiple companies,” Willis said.
Architect Eric Neiler of Poughkeepsie-based Tinkleman Architecture has been working with Lumberyard and been key in evaluating the process, Willis said. The entire building needed a redesign including improving the facade and reconfiguring the utility services, according to the Tinkleman website.
Willis was unsure of the exact date of the second inspection but it was done prior to the Lumberyard’s March 18 fundraiser at Joe’s Garage in Catskill, where Willis announced the discovery to the crowd.
“That was the first time I spoke about the asbestos problem,” Willis said. “I was not expecting a response from the community.”
The community has been supportive of the Lumberyard and is looking for ways to help, Willis said.
“It was a chance for us to be able to reach back out to our community and the greater Hudson Valley,” Willis said. “There’s a really great momentum for Lumberyard.”
A fundraiser to remove the asbestos started Thursday and the Lumberyard has a goal to raise $250,000 to remove the asbestos, Willis said. People can donate to the fund at: http://www.thelumberyard.org/asbestos
The fundraiser is a grassroots effort that seemed appropriate and the Lumberyard is looking for business owners and companies to match donations, Willis said.
“It’s more attractive to give when someone else is matching dollar to dollar,” Willis said. “We’re trying to become a fabric of the community.”
The $250,000 will be helpful in removing the asbestos, but the facade has to be replaced at a cost of $150,000 and the roof will be replaced at a cost of $200,000, Willis said. If the project were to go ahead without removing the asbestos, the second floor wouldn’t be utilized for artist residences like the Lumberyard wants to have, Willis said.
Referring to the roof replacement, Willis said, “It makes sense to take the whole thing off. If there was no asbestos we wouldn’t have to replace it.”
None of the money for removing the asbestos is coming out of Lumberyard’s budget. The group will continue to hold fundraisers throughout the year to raise money, Willis said.
“I’m feeling confident with the initial support,” Willis said.
The Lumberyard is pursuing its goal of having its planned opening in summer 2018, but the performances will be held at various venues across Greene and Columbia counties, instead of the Water Street building, Willis said.
“We’re committed to the area,” Willis said. “We never want to cancel a contract with an artist.”
The building is set to be open by summer 2019 and construction on the building will start in January 2018, Willis said. The Lumberyard recently released a humorous video showing people at a Lumberyard reception scattering in terror from a white-suited “asbestos man,” only to learn that the man is really there to help with the cleanup, Willis said.
“We plan to do more videos throughout the process,” Willis said. “We feel supported.”
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(PC Mary Dempsey Columbia Green Media)