Press Release Donald C. Banks Building
Date Posted: Monday, January 23rd, 2017
Banks Building Press Release
City of New Castle
January 23, 2107
On Saturday, January 21, the City of New Castle was forced to perform an emergency demolition of the beloved Banks Building due to safety concerns, and forecasted strong and potentially damaging winds.
At approximately 10:00 am, a bystander enjoying a bench near the Banks Building heard a loud noise from within, and then observed a large crack on the front of the building. He dialed 911 and reported that a building was about to collapse, and New Castle City Police and Goodwill Fire Company were dispatched to the area. The City Administrator was notified and immediately began to assess the situation with assistance from Board of Health chair Joe Day, public safety personnel, contractors and City engineer Dave Athey.
The City Engineer determined that, “in my opinion, the building should be demolished. Public safety must come first and the possibility exists that high winds expected tomorrow could result in flying debris or even further collapse.”
City police secured the area, and public works employees were called to remove, or cover, items such as plaques, flags, planters, etc. in advance of the demolition, and would eventually secure the area with fencing. The demolition contractor was able to quickly mobilize crews and equipment to complete the work late Saturday.
The City was in the process of determining the structural soundness of the building and had budgeted $15,000, in this fiscal year, for that purpose. It later allotted an additional $35,000 to remove hazardous materials that were in the building, and would have needed to be removed whether the building was deemed structurally sound, or not. Fortunately, the majority of the asbestos removal was complete, except for a small section of flooring tiles that were later removed during demolition. Had the City not completed this asbestos removal work prior to the demolition, the overall cost of asbestos removal could have more than doubled due to dumping fees.
The City had planned to study the building and determine next steps with public input. However, the emergency situation required immediate action.
“We were fortunate to have been notified by an alert citizen about this situation, are thankful no one was hurt, and that City personnel were able to work with others to successfully and safely demolish the building in such a timely manner,” according to City Administrator Bill Barthel.
“We will all miss the Banks Building and regret the circumstances. We look forward to hearing suggestions on how this area can best be put back to use to benefit our City,” said City Council President Linda Ratchford.