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Asbestos is everywhere, area residents warned

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By David Giuliani

Las Vegas housing officials say they want to get as many vacant units ready for tenants as soon as possible.

The housing authority has been rehabilitating a number of units in recent months, but an assessment shows the presence of asbestos in units targeted for remodeling.

Jeff Lowry of Lowry Consultants told the City Council last week that the asbestos were located in floor tiles and that the problem would need to be solved before housing improvements are made.

The city is looking to modernize 13 units in which Lowry has found asbestos contained in floor tiles. He said it’s not a problem until the tiles are broken and that in many cases, the authority has placed new layers of tiles over the old ones through the years.

He said the city hopes to do the remodeling in the next 10 months.

Chris Barela, the city’s housing director, said the authority would find the money for the asbestos removal in its capital funds.

Councilman Andrew Feldman said that he’s concerned that the authority could be overcharged for the removal, saying that’s often been known to occur.

“I just don’t want to see that happen,” he said.

Lowry assured Feldman that there would be a competitive bidding process for the asbestos abatement.

Remodeling unoccupied units is one of the keys for the city to get its authority out of troubled status in the eyes of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Barela said. The other key area is improving finances, he said.

Barela said the city is making progress on both fronts. “I’m pretty optimistic,” he said.

Councilwoman Diane Moore said she would like to see the city get out of troubled status so that it could begin on the project at the site of the old housing subdivision that was demolished last year — known officially as the Macario Gonzalez Community Neighborhood.

The city has been planning to build some type of new development at that site.