tampabay.com

Asbestos postpones demolition

By TIMES STAFF
Published March 28, 2007


Demolition on a city-owned mobile home park had to be postponed after thieves exposed asbestos while tearing windows out of abandoned trailers.

County air quality officials are scheduled to inspect the trailers at the former Summers Mobile Home Park sometime this week, Pinellas Park City Manager Mike Gustafson said Tuesday. If they give the go-ahead, experts will remove the asbestos and, immediately after, the demolition crew will move into the property at 4165 Park Blvd.

"Right now, you have a waiting period," Gustafson said. The asbestos likely does not threaten any neighbors, he said.

"I can't believe there's any asbestos floating around," he said.

The city bought Summers in 2002 for $796,000. The land will be used for a retention pond connected with drainage improvements along Park Boulevard. Officials allowed Doug Summers, trustee for the former owner, to continue operating the park until this year when it was to be turned over to the city.

Summers said in a March 23 letter to the city that everyone was out by March 1 but that three tenants still needed to move their mobile homes and others had left personal property. He said he was trying to work with them to get their property.

But there have been several incidents of theft from the property. Gustafson said he saw someone trying to pull the aluminum sides off a trailer about four weeks ago. The person left when Gustafson approached him.

More recently, Gustafson said, two men were arrested and charged with stealing. "They were stripping stuff off buildings. ... Aluminum has a great value to it."

It's unclear who was arrested. Pinellas Park police records were not available early Tuesday.

The city even put up a fence with a locked gate, but that has not prevented problems.

Summers said in his letter that there was a "serious incident" the weekend of March 17 when "approximately 25-30 windows and doors were stolen from mobile homes on the property, causing the release of asbestos-containing materials."

The asbestos was used as insulation around the windows and became exposed when the caulking that sealed it was stripped away by thieves, Gustafson said.

Gustafson said Summers will have to pay for any abatement because he is still in control of the property. That money, he said, would come from funds held from the sale that are due to be turned over to Summers when the city takes full possession.

Problems at deserted trailer parks or other properties are not unusual, said Pinellas County Sheriff's Office spokesman Jim Bordner. The agency is investigating six arsons at the former Bay Pines Mobile Home Park, which was closed late last year and also is being cleared.