Crews Monday began removing asbestos from two Oread neighborhood buildings slated for demolition by Kansas University.
It's a step toward knocking down two apartment complexes and four old houses near 13th and Ohio streets, a move quite upsetting to some neighbors. And it comes as the university signals its willingness to slow the governing process leading to demolition.
Lynn Bretz, a university spokeswoman, said Monday the Campus Historic Preservation Board originally slated to decide Wednesday whether to go though with the proposed demolition will defer its decision to an unspecified later date at the request of Lawrence city officials. The board will take testimony on the topic for 45 minutes, she said.
Warren Corman, university architect and special assistant to the chancellor, said removing the asbestos was required.
"No matter what you do with the place, whether you remodel or tear it down, you must get rid of the asbestos," he said.
Corman said asbestos has been removed from many of the KU buildings on campus.
"It seems like it's everyplace," he said. "We've found it in almost every building, especially in tape and installation around the pipes."
Corman said a contractor, hired by the KU Endowment Association, first started on the large apartments at 1301 Ohio and 1307 Ohio. He said the association currently owns all six properties but is in the process of transferring the deeds to the university.
"They're all empty, and they're hazardous," he said. "The university would like to tear them down and build the scholarship halls we've been talking about."
KU also owns a house at 1309 Ohio that will continue to be rented because there are no plans to demolish it yet.
It's the ultimate demolition and encroachment of KU that bothers Oread residents the most.
Lawrence city commissioners tonight will receive a letter from the Oread Neighborhood Assn. regarding KU's expansion plans.
Janet Gerstner, the association's secretary and treasurer, said the group hopes the city will help facilitate discussions with KU about the issue as well as storm water drainage and parking.
"The university is surrounded by the city, and therefore the city is impacted by KU," she said.
Bretz said KU officials will be on hand for tonight's meeting. Gerstner said members of the Coalition of KU Neighbors, which includes other neighborhood associations, plan to attend the 6:35 p.m. meeting at City Hall, Sixth and Massachusetts.