The old, vandalized Lafayette Natural Science Museum and Planetarium building on Girard Park Drive was due to have been demolished by the middle of this month. It remains standing, however, untouched by any wrecking crew.
That’s because the 12,000-square-foot building contains asbestos, something the city-parish public works department didn’t realize before executing the demolition contract and scheduling the work.
The department had a years-old report showing the air-conditioning system was mostly clear, but did not have an asbestos report for the entire building, said Mitch Wyble, an engineering supervisor.
“We figured, being as that was the only report we had, there was no other asbestos,” Wyble said. “Assumptions. Shame on everybody.”
The result is a 40 percent increase to Henderson Construction’s contract, from $295,500 to $412,591 to include asbestos abatement, and a seven-month delay in the project. Henderson was initially to begin Dec. 4, 2017, with a deadline of 72 working days. Wyble said he now expects the work to begin next week, to be done in four months.
The demolition might have proceeded without abatement if the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality hadn’t intervened after a news report on the project, Wyble said. The state informed the city-parish that a DEQ permit was necessary before any demolition, and that a certificate showing the premises to be free of asbestos was necessary to obtain the permit, Wyble said.
“That set up the red flag to say, hey, we need to double check. We darn sure don’t want to get crossways with DEQ. Come to find out, it did have asbestos,” Wyble said.
The new estimated completion time is three years after City-Parish Council approved the project. Previous delays occurred when the scope of work was expanded to include drainage improvements.