- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 5, 2015

EUGENE, Ore. (AP) - Eugene won’t have to look at the grim remains of Civic Stadium much longer.

Workers operating heavy machinery on Tuesday started tearing apart the charred skeleton of the 77-year-old wooden stadium that was destroyed by a massive fire on June 29.

Eventually, the burned debris will be hauled away in a cleanup expected to take three weeks, said Micheal Roberts, a consultant to the property owner, the Eugene Civic Alliance.

The fire ruined the plans of the nonprofit group to restore the shuttered, historic stadium for soccer and other field sports.

Alliance board member Jenny Ulum said the group in the fall will present a new plan to redevelop the south Eugene property. The plan is expected to rely on donations.

The fire also changed the focus of Roberts, the former owner of a Eugene commercial construction firm.

He had expected to work this summer as a paid consultant on the ballpark’s renovation, starting with the replacement of the grandstand’s roof.

The alliance was “just in the process of hiring me,” Roberts said. “I had just seen the contract to start the renovation work. We thought we were a week to 10 days away from tearing the roof off,” but then the fire destroyed the structure.

Three 12-year-old boys and one 10-year-old boy have been charged with arson in connection with the fire. Fact-finding hearings for the four boys are scheduled for Sept. 1 in Lane County Juvenile Court. A judge has issued an order barring the public release of the youths’ names and the names of their parents.

The alliance hired Belfor, a property restoration contractor, to remove the stadium’s burned remains and to grade the site.

The grandstand was insured for $3 million by Berkshire Hathaway. The cleanup costs will be paid from the insurance payment, Roberts said. The alliance does not want to disclose how much the cleanup will cost, he said.

However, “there will be substantial amount of money left” after the cleanup that the alliance will use to help redevelop the property, Roberts said.

The removal of the burned material will take several weeks, partly because the roof and locker rooms in the grandstand contained asbestos.

All of the burned wood and metal must be rinsed with water to remove asbestos particles, Roberts said.

Smaller pieces of debris and contaminated soil will be wrapped in a fabric-like material for transport and disposal in a landfill, he said.

Belfor workers on Tuesday wore breathing masks and white jumpsuits as they operated machinery to rip apart the charred metal bleachers on the third base side of the grandstand.

An excavator dumped twisted metal and splintered boards into separate piles, where workers rinsed them with hoses.

The removal of contaminated debris and soil will be done according to government rules overseen by the Lane Regional Air Protection Agency, Roberts said.

Also, the alliance hired Douglas International of Veneta to monitor air quality around the site during the cleanup, he said.

The metal bleachers could be salvaged by BRING Recycling or sold for scrap by Belfor, Roberts said.

Seven 100-foot-tall wooden light poles will be cut down for possible use elsewhere on the redeveloped property, he said.

The stadium’s wooden scoreboard did not burn. The alliance is working with artists to renovate the scoreboard so it can be used on the site again, Roberts said.

The alliance had bought the 10-acre property near South Eugene High School from the Eugene School District, with the city’s help, two months before the fire. The group had raised more than $4 million from 120 donors.

A couple of remaining structures on the site, including a two-story building and an old garage once used for school buses, will be razed later, Roberts said.

With the grandstand gone, the alliance will have more options than before on how to redevelop the site, he said.

“We ended up with a clean slate that we did not expect,” he said.

Alliance members are asking “is there a layout that is more efficient? Could there be a new orientation to the new grandstand or the soccer pitch?” he said. “Over the next few months, you will see a plan for the community to take a look at.”


Information from: The Register-Guard, https://www.registerguard.com

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