Stogner updates Council regarding asbestos testing, sewer rehabilitation project

Albemarle Public Housing Director Dr. Kim Scott is expected to receive results from asbestos testing of a portion of apartment units in Amhurst Gardens and Elizabeth Heights next week, according to an update provided to the City Council Monday evening.

Should results come back positive, which Wayne Stogner of Stogner Architecture said is likely for certain units, abatement efforts would have to be taken.

“We told them that we wanted any material that was suspect to be tested,” Stogner said.

Charlotte-based One Source Environmental, LLC recently performed asbestos and lead-based paint testing for units at Amhurst Gardens and Elizabeth Heights. Stogner told Council the results came back negative for lead.

Mayor Ronnie Michael emphasized the importance of abating all the units that have asbestos.

“We need to get all the asbestos out if at all possible,” he said.

There is a high likelihood mold will be detected during the course of abating the units, Stogner said, noting those materials should be replaced.

The asbestos and lead-based paint tests needed to be completed prior to the sewer project to improve the damaged Amhurst Garden apartments. Scott told Council last year that testing of that kind had not been completed on the units in the last 10 years.

Twenty units in Amhurst Gardens have been identified as having plumbing problems though only 11 are in dire condition and need to be improved as soon as possible, Scott said. Currently, five families from the 20 units need to be moved.

Stogner estimated work could be done to improve four to six units at a time. Each group of units should take about four to five weeks.

Assuming asbestos testing results come back within the next few days, Stogner said the bidding process for the sewer project should begin soon. Stogner told Council that in addition to a contractor for the project, an additional abatement subcontractor would be brought on to eliminate the asbestos.

The bid specifications will include options the city could pursue including repairing cabinets and the floor tiles on first and second floors, Stogner said.

Stogner said he first became aware of sewer problems in the community as early as 2019, though Council first learned about the issues early last year after Scott contacted them. Scott took over as public housing director in January 2022.

For fiscal year 2022, capital funding for the public housing department is $724,485, with funding for fiscal years 2023-2026 expected to be $578,517 each year. To help with additional funding, Stogner encouraged the city to apply for federal emergency hazardous grants, which would help pay for the repairs.

Stogner also showed photographs of damaged walls, cabinets and dirty floors, along with clogged bathroom exhaust fans, which he called “tenant abuse.” The units were not routinely inspected until Scott took over. Scott told Council he estimates each unit gets inspected at least six times a year.

“What I found is if the housing department does their housekeeping inspections on a regular basis, you will have less and less of this,” he told Council about the abuse. “If you quit doing it, you get more and more, until it gets to a point where it is hard to catch up.”