The days have passed when the city of Hannibal’s old sewer plant will entice children with a sense of adventure, or serve as a haven for the homeless. Despite temperatures in the low teens Tuesday morning, members of the Street Department could be found using heavy equipment to bring down three buildings near Bear Creek.
According to a person familiar with the project who spoke on the condition he not be identified, the demolition portion of the buildings will take only a couple of days. The fill from the stone buildings will be used to fill in basements in two of the structures.
While three buildings will be razed, a fourth circular structure will be left standing, according to a worker. That structure, to which there is no ground-level entrance, was filled with sand years ago.
The Street Department wants to get the buildings down as soon as possible so that the pieces of heavy equipment being used will not have to be parked overnight at the secluded site any longer than necessary.
The city will be happy to have the buildings, which last month City Manager Jeff LaGarce said represented “ongoing safety hazards,” reduced to rubble as soon as possible. Despite efforts to keep them boarded up, they were frequently wide open, thanks to vandals and the curious.
The city’s decision to finally bring the long-vacant buildings down might have been spurred by an incident last fall when two children became “stuck” for a time in one of the buildings before being safely removed.
The City Council approved the proposed demolition at its Dec. 18 meeting. The city, however, waited a while before moving forward with the project to give time to step forward to any private contractor interested in performing the work for the salvage rights of the stone structures. And while there was some interest in such a deal, ultimately it has fallen to Street Department personnel to complete the task.
While Leon Wallace, Street Department superintendent, did have to coordinate with the BNSF Railway to provide a flagger when city equipment was being moved across the railroad tracks to the site, that was probably the biggest procedural hurdle. No further red tape was encountered since the 8.1 acre plat of city-owned land is not in the city’s historic district.