The Philadelphia Housing Authority (PHA) advised residents on safety preparations for the upcoming Queen Lane high rise implosion, at a community meeting on Thursday at Mt. Moriah Baptist Church.
PHA and other city officials, in addition to the demolition contractors, spoke to residents and answered questions about the implosion, scheduled for Sept. 13.
Most of the meeting’s discussions centered on what residents could expect prior to and on the day of the implosion.
“The decisions that were made were alright,” said Pamela Bracey, a Germantown resident at the meeting. “A lot of conversation is taking place and there is now an understanding between PHA and the community. [But] there are still some questions to be raised as far as safety and how individuals’ property and their person will be handled during the implosion. We’ve never had an implosion this close to where people are living.”
Officials confirmed at the meeting that there will be several surveys prior to the implosion. PHA will visit homes within the designated affected areas Aug. 23, 26 and Aug. 30.
The demolition contractor conducting the implosion, Controlled Demolition, will be surveying one week before.
“PHA is going out to a broader group doing a questionnaire. My concern is people who would be affected by dust ... are in an area, that for safety’s concern, I would rather them not be,” said Jim Santoro, Controlled Demolition project manager. “I will be making contact with people that week prior to the implosion.”
PHA and contractors have outlined two zones that will be affected by the implosion — the “evacuation” zone and the “dust” zone.
Santoro said the evacuation zone was drawn to consider buildings carefully, adding, “We wanted to make sure [that] no one was standing behind a pane of glass in the event that a pebble or rock would get out during the collapse. Some houses are 30 feet away, others are 200 feet away.”
People living in homes within the evacuation zone, according to PHA and contractors, must not be in their homes on the day of the implosion.
Residents are advised to stay with a relative or friend. But if they do not have that option, PHA will provide a comfort center at the Cook-Wissahickon Elementary School, located at 201 E. Salaignac St.
Santoro said the dust zone is “based on where we might expect the dust to travel and settle in ground.”
He advised people living in homes that fall within this zone to stay in their homes. They should not “go outside or open any windows or [doors]” as they “might get dust inside.” Also, air conditioners should be turned off, he said.
Officials said on the morning before the implosion, an outreach team will begin knocking on doors at 4:30 a.m. to make sure people are evacuated. By 6 a.m. everything must be clear.
The implosion is scheduled for 7:15 a.m. Police will shut the roads down one hour before.
Cars should be removed from the street, or if left out, will be towed.
Santoro added that following the implosion, residents who live in the evacuation zone “will not be allowed back in the area until the health department has determined that it has been adequately cleaned.”
Residents in the dust zone, he said, should not “come out until the dust is no longer there.”
After the advice was provided, some residents still had concerns about the effects of the dust.
One lady, who said she lived “slightly outside the blue line,” asked if her vegetable garden and porch would be “covered in dust.”
Santoro responded that there would not be “a lot of heavy dust to reach the ground” and that it could be “rinsed off by a hose.”
A male resident, asked “How dangerous is the dust?” Santoro responded that it was not “hazardous” but it was “irritating.” For example, if a person had asthma, the dust could be a bother as Santoro said it is “composed of brick, mortar and concrete.
City Councilwoman Cindy Bass attended the meeting and advised residents the preparations would be worth the final product — condominiums for low-income families.
“In the end, the residence is going to be attractive and an asset to the community,” she said. “I’m excited about what the future holds.”
If residents need more details about the implosion, they can contact the PHA hotline at (215) 684-3001.