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Old Ashtabula Harbor fire station razed

By:  Shelley Terry - Star Beacon

ASHTABULA - - It was just about 11 a.m. Tuesday when the out-stretched arm of a material handler wielding a 2,750-pound grapple punched through the brick wall of the city's old fire station on West Ninth Street.

By noon, the sturdy machine - - operated by Ashtabula Iron and Metal employee Eric Magda - - had eaten away the backside of the building, making it unrecognizable as piles of debris stood almost several feet high where the side door was once located.

Demolition was supposed to take place Feb. 14, but a winter storm delayed the job. "Neighbors in the Harbor have had to look at this building long enough," City Manager Anthony Cantagallo said. "It has been of no use to the city for some time now." The city contracted Ashtabula Iron and Metal for $5,225 to demolish the old fire station, which has been abandoned for 10 years. When the steel and tin is hauled away and recycled, and the rest of the material is transported to the landfill, Cantagallo said the property will be listed on the real estate market as a building site for a single-family residential home.

"It's zoned R-1 and it's going to stay R-1," he said. "We're going to advertise it in the paper and sell it to the highest bidder."

The demolition was expected to be done by nightfall Tuesday, said Lou Jascoe, vice president of operations at Ashtabula Iron and Metal Co., The demolition comes a week or two after workers removed asbestos from the site.

City officials have pondered the fate of the station for some time. Most recently, members of the Ashtabula County Fire Chiefs Association considered making the station a home for the county haz-mat, or hazardous materials, team. However, the run-down building needed a lot of work and the plan was shelved early last year when the city bought the old Ohio Department of Transportation complex on West Avenue.

The Haz-mat team is going to move into the old ODOT building, said Dom Iarocci, the city's director of public services, who will present his plan for the building at the next finance and ordinance committee meeting, set for March 21 at City Hall.

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