More South Side structures added to Hannibal's demolition list, but a new concern emerges

Among the South Side houses in Hannibal slated for demolition in the future by its owners is one whose history is linked to methamphetamine. The owners’ plans for the house, located in the 800 block of Walnut Street, were revealed during Monday’s Building Commission meeting at City Hall meeting.

The razing of the structure carries with it what one Commission member described as a “new problem.” Does any chemical residue left from the manufacture and/or use of the meth need to be abated before the structure can be brought down?

While Building Inspector Joey Burnham said Tuesday he would be researching that question, he did note that unlike certain forms of asbestos, which can become airborne when disturbed, such a threat does not exist when dealing with meth residue.

To help the property owners Lt. Mike McHargue of the Hannibal Police Department, who also is a member of the Building Commission, indicated he would check the investigation report at that address to determine how widespread the chemicals were believed to have been spread within the structure.

Mayor James Hark questioned the logic of testing for the presence of meth in a house that is to be torn down.

According to Burnham, the cost of testing for meth can run from a few hundred dollars to over a $1,000. The building inspector added that the subsequent cost of the actual cleanup can amount to thousands of additional dollars.

P.R.I.D.E. Project progress

The overall list of houses slated to be demolished on Hannibal’s South Side as part of the Community P.R.I.D.E. Project continues to grow. Eight structures were added to the city’s pending demolition list while another four are ticketed for razing by property owners who were in attendance at Monday’s Building Commission meeting.

Public hearings were held for 21 properties, which took up the bulk of the two-hour meeting.

In only two instances were property owners, or representatives of the property owners, in attendance. In a handful of other instances letters were submitted from property owners who for an assortment of reasons could not be in attendance at the public hearing.

All the residences ticketed for demolition were judged to be beyond salvaging. In one instance, Bob Stout, a Community Service officer with the Police Department, reported the interior of a Valley Street house was “destroyed.” He explained that he had been inside it to remove the remains of two small dogs which at some point had been abandoned in a cage by a tenant.

Not every house up for a public hearing wound up on the city’s pending demolition list. In one instance the slow, but steady progress that has been made on a Fulton Avenue house was saluted by members of the Commission, who agreed to monitor the property owner’s progress.

According to City Manager Jeff LaGarce, an observer at Monday night’s Building Commission meeting, the neighborhood revitalization program is progressing.

“Our first step was to condemn the properties that fail to meet minimum housing code standards. Most properties discussed by the Building Commission last night are well below housing code standards; the vast majority aren’t even salvageable,” he said on Tuesday. “If properties remain in this condition — and many cannot really be fixed up — they will be demolished. The first step of the program is to eliminate substandard, vacant properties that blight the neighborhood.”

Reach reporter Danny Henley at danny.henley@courierpost.com