Meth abatement under way
Even with methamphetamine contamination being abated from Goncho Apartments this week, Washington City Administrator Brent Hinson said there will still be plenty of work to do on the building before it can reopen to tenants.
Hinson said today that before the building can be reoccupied several life-safety issues that were identified have to be corrected. He said that even before a Dec. 5, 2012, raid located an active meth lab in one of the apartments, the city had found several violations. He said that many violations were found in the electrical system and several fire safety issues were reported.
“The meth is being taken care of and the good part about the meth being taken care of is that the building — while it won’t be safe to occupy because of some other code violations — can be accessed,” he said. “We will take down the fence and clean up the property and hopefully the owners will keep the property cleaned up.”
On Jan. 17, 2013, Goncho Apartments was declared an unsafe building and the residents of the building were ordered to vacate. The residents were also ordered to leave all their belongings inside the building, as they may also be contaminated. A packet of papers given to each tenant cited “unacceptable levels of methamphetamine residue and numerous city and state fire code and electrical code violations.”
Hinson said that once the meth is abated, the owners could coordinate with the former residents to return and get the items they had to leave behind.
“Meth getting abated takes care of the meth, but there are a lot of other issues,” Hinson said. “From day one our stance has been that this isn’t just about the meth. It is way overdue. There is serious life-safety work that would need to be done before we could even consider granting an occupancy permit.”
In order to allow occupancy, Hinson said, the issues involving safety would have to be corrected. The building would have to be re-inspected before residents could be taken again. He said that zoning director Steve Donnolly, electrical inspector Dave Bruns and fire marshal Bruce McAvoy would all have to inspect the building.
He said the city had done an inspection two years prior to the meth raid, where violations were determined.
“The ball just got dropped,” said Hinson, on why the issues hadn’t been addressed earlier. “There should have been action taken a couple of years previously, if not 10 years previously.”
He said that the owners of the building had said that repairs of the issues would be between $80,000 and $100,000. Some ideas that had been discussed include bringing the building up to code one floor at a time.