Albany County plans to contract to have a dilapidated building in Rock River demolished in 2020 after signing a deal this month with state officials to receive $250,000 for the project.
The 6,500 square-foot farm building was constructed in 1920, according to county assessor records.
Albany County Commissioner Terri Jones told the Laramie Boomerang an environmental assessment of the building will need to be conducted before demolition proceeds.
“I don’t think it’s full asbestos but we don’t know that yet,” Jones said.
The town of Rock River purchased the building from an “absentee owner,” according to Wyoming Business Council press release.
The building sits between two privately-owned houses on C Avenue.
After the county researched what grant-funding might be available, it applied for a “community development block grant” from the WBC. The business council’s board approved the funding in December.
According to the agreement, the county will also need to “develop a community development plan that identifies community development and housing needs and specifics both short and long-term community development goals,” including “the needs of low to moderate income individuals.”
Under an agreement finalized last week with WBC’s Community Development Division, the county is required to complete the work by the end of 2020 “unless an extension is approved by (WBC).”
Jones said the building needs to be demolished because it’s a safety hazard.
“The roof of the building has partially collapsed and was full of lots and lots of junk that you could hardly walk through there,” Jones said. “It’s home to lots of vermin and it’s absolutely a fire hazard. That building is dangerous. If the wind came up strong enough, the rest of that roof could collapse.”
The county’s engineer, Bill Gorman, will be responsible for preparing the project for bid.
Everything from the building will need to be hauled from Rock River to a landfill, which Jones said will create “a huge cost.”
Jones said the demolition is expected to cost more than usual because, since the $250,000 grant derives from federal funding, federal wages will need to be paid.
During the 2019 legislative session, Rep. Dan Furphy, R-Laramie, sponsored a bill that would provide tax credits to property owners who make improvements to abandoned buildings. The proposal, he hopes, will help revitalize the downtowns of municipalities in the state.
The bill passed out of the House and earned a lot of support, but was held back in the Senate in exchange for the promise that it would become an interim committee topic.