Asbestos Abatement in Arizona Gymnasium Costs School District $160K in Tight Times

Basketball hoop at a gymnasium

Even as school budgets tighten and shrink in this struggling economy, money still can be found for asbestos abatement. It doesn’t come cheaply, but it has become a top priority.

The Payson (Arizona) Unified School District last week approved final plans for a $750,000.00 renovation of its high school gymnasium that includes a $160,000.00 charge for removing asbestos-laced ceiling tiles.

According to the Payson Roundup, the renovation will be paid for by the Arizona School Facilities Board, even though the state agency has stopped funding most capital improvements because of budgetary issues.

The funds were approved only because of the “health and safety” concerns and because of a structurally unsound roof that included a high concentration of asbestos in the ceiling tiles.

“We were very appreciative to be able to move forward,” school board president Barbara Underwood said at a school board meeting recently attended by a project coordinator for the Facilities Board. “We were putting a lot of people at risk.”

The projected cost of the asbestos abatement is 21 percent of the total renovation cost. According to the Roundup, school board members were “aghast” at the cost of the asbestos removal, but they voted for approved after its importance was explained. An exposure to asbestos can lead to asbestosis, lung diseases or even mesothelioma cancer.

The asbestos costs were detailed as $28,000 for oversight of the process and $132,000 for the actual removal. Ceiling tiles are one of hundreds of building materials in which asbestos previously was used. It becomes dangerous when it is frayed and the fibers become airborne.

Abatement workers will be using hazardous waste suits and special breathing units while removing the tiles. Any amount of exposure is considered dangerous.

Cost Stalled California Abatement

The cost of asbestos abatement is what stopped — or at least stalled — a different recreational project last week in Salinas, California. The Police Activities League in Salinas had hoped to convert its old Armory Hall into an indoor sports and recreation facility for children.

The armory, built in 1932, had been closed for seven years and needed many different repairs. The renovation project was announced in September, but after paying $150,000 to remove the asbestos throughout the building, the PAL has no money remaining to finish the renovation, according to a report by KION-46 News.

“The money was over dedicated to the asbestos and the other environmental issues that we needed to deal with,” Officer Angel Gonzalez, director of the Salinas PAL, told KION. “It all comes down to money. If we had the money, to take care of the plumbing issues and other issues, it wouldn’t be pretty, but we actually could open up and have programs here.”

The facility will remain closed until more money is raised and more renovations can be done.


After graduating with an English degree from Southeastern University in 2010, Faith Franz came on board as a health and wellness writer for The Mesothelioma Center.

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