Clean up of Kirk Apartments slowed by state

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(ABC 6 News) – It has been two weeks since a fire destroyed the Kirk Apartments in Mason City.

Streets surrounding the building remain closed, and local business owners are getting frustrated with another delay in tearing down the building and opening up the roads.

The city says there’s asbestos in the building, and it needs to find a contractor licensed to deal with it before demolition can begin.

Ransom Peazol is just a stones throw away from the Kirk Apartments.

“It was all very unnerving. They came and told us we needed to get out, so we got all the renters out upstairs and all within about 15 minutes we got out,” explained Owner Tammy Ransom.

Ransom Peazol has been in Tammy’s family for five generations.

“When I locked the doors and I looked around the building and thought if I had 10 minutesm what wouldI grab? And there’s just so much stuff. It’s just a very eerie feeling,” said Ransom.

The building sustained some roof damage from the fire, but the biggest damage to the business could be these road barriers. Tammy says here sales have been cut in half since the fire.

“Well, one of the main struggles is the customers simply can’t get here. The road’s closed out front they are closed all the way around. There’s a city parking lot about two blocks away. So, it’s really difficult for elder customers to get in,” Ransom said.

Jenn Pope owns Roots, which is right across the street from the apartments.

“We want nothing more than to just work with the city and everyone involved. And understand that there’s many things that go into it other than just what we think. You know, just tear it down. So, that definitely frustrating as a business owner,” explained Pope.

Her business relies heavily on foot traffic, but has barely seen any one now that she is forced to do business out of her back door.

“It’s a whole other process. They have to go a different route, they have to call when they show up and ask ‘Where’s the alley. Where’s all of this?’ so our grab and go have essentially been cut in half,” Pope said.

City Administrator Aaron Burnett says local contractors are not certified to deal with asbestos, and trying to find another contractor is a process that takes some time.

“I know this a terrible inconvenience for businesses. We are trying to work with Main Street to help patronize those businesses to put a little money in their pocket during this tough time. But then, on our side, we are working with people as quickly as we can to get people out there to work with the property owner and identify those people, to get the roads back open and to business as normal,” Burnett explained.

Despite the delay, these business owners are hopeful they can tough this one out.

“We have been here over 150 years. We have weathered storms. It’s tough, but we will weather this one as well,” Ransom said.

“I’m hoping that as small businesses we can all stand together and just help support each other,” Pope said.

The city is hopeful they will have he building demolished and the roads back open by the end of the month if not sooner.