By Matthew Saari

Whitehall village officials are seeking a state grant to fund the demolition of the notorious Flat Iron building before it collapses.

Mayor Phil Smith called a special Village Board meeting last Friday at 1 p.m. where, following a nine-minute public hearing during which no village residents spoke out against applying for the grant, the board voted unanimously in favor of applying for the Restore New York grant through the state’s Empire State Development initiative.

The state website reads: “The program provides local governments with financial assistance to support economic development and revitalize neighborhoods and urban centers across the state…Cities, towns and villages are eligible and encouraged to apply for funding to support projects that include demolition, deconstruction, rehabilitation or reconstruction of vacant, abandoned, condemned and surplus properties…The program places a strong emphasis on projects in economically distressed communities.”

“Do we know exactly how much this grant is?” asked trustee Tim Watson.

Smith said the grant does not carry a definitive dollar value; it’s entirely dependent on the scope of the proposed project and he has to submit a figure.

Another unknown is whether the Flat Iron is contaminated with asbestos, a well-known carcinogen which was a prominent building material during the mid-20th century. If it is, demo crews will need to dispose of the material in a specified manner as well as cart it to a designated disposal facility, all of which increases the project’s cost.

“They break it down by if it’s a masonry building versus a wood building – this one is both,” Smith said. “Somewhere between those they would allow us…$300,000 for a contaminated building.”


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