Demolition Derby

Five of Cuyahoga Land Bank’s demolitions were front and center July 9-13, when the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) descended on Slavic Village to research how our demos affect the properties’ sustainable land use.Hosmer_demo

Staff from EPA’s Region 5 in Chicago and Cleveland, along with a field research team from their Office of Research and Development (ORD) in Cincinnati, observed five demolitions of residential properties to determine the ways in which demolishing will affect their future use. Will they be transformed into lovely urban gardens, landscaped side yards or new home sites or will they languish as overgrown vacant lots?

The EPA also documented the Cuyahoga Land Bank’s bid specs for demolitions, including alternative soil and fill techniques. Their work included collecting data on the terrain itself before and after demo, how the soil was tested for bulk density (compacting) before and after demolition, contractors’ processes for excavating basements, water infiltration, soil samples and hydraulic conductivity, which tells how fast water is moving through the soil. The Cuyahoga Land Bank also monitored air quality during the demolitions.

The EPA’s research will help Region 5 and the Cuyahoga Land Bank in refining bid specs for future demolitions. The Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District (NEORSD) will use the data, too, in strategizing their green infrastructure techniques such as rain gardens on vacant lots that limit runoff flowing into the sewer.

The EPA’s ORD returned in September and will also be here this month for a second round of observations, this time to test how green infrastructure is integrated. Then they’ll return once more in Spring 2013 to observe how the demolished Cuyahoga Land Bank sites fare in terms of re-vegetation and soil quality.

This isn’t the Cuyahoga Land Bank’s maiden voyage with U.S. EPA Region 5. Before the Slavic Village demolitions, the Cuyahoga Land Bank collaborated with the EPA and the Cleveland Botanical Garden to “green up” traditional bid specifications. The greener version includes a list of best management practices relating to demo procedures in soil grading, seeding, and hazardous materials.

By collaborating with the Cleveland Botanical Garden and EPA on demolition specs, the Cuyahoga Land Bank hopes to promote environmental awareness in its demolitions. The final report by the EPA is expected by November 2013. In the meantime, the evaluations have already shown a positive outcome.

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