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Public Safety building will be demolished in June

World War I munitions are likely buried beneath the building

Public Safety building will be demolished in June

The Public Safety Building, pictured in 2016, will be demolished this summer. The AU police department will move to a new building on East Campus. 

The Public Safety building, located on the south end of campus behind Anderson and Letts Halls, will be demolished this month, according to memos released by AU officials. The public safety department began operating out of its new home in the Meyers Technology and Innovation Building on East Campus on May 17, per tweets posted by the department’s official Twitter account. 

David Dower, the University’s assistant vice president of planning and project management, wrote in a May 15 memo that the demolition will begin on or about June 1. Another memo sent out on May 19 by Dower and Vin Harkins, the University’s assistant vice president of facilities management, listed the demolition project as beginning on May 20 and lasting through July.

Dower said in an email that June 1 was the official start date of the project.

“The university anticipates that this work will take several weeks and require the staging and use of heavy construction equipment at the site,” Dower wrote in the May 15 memo. “Because of this work, members of the AU community should anticipate an increase in traffic in that area and the Fletcher Gate.”

A 2015 report released by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (ACE) revealed that there are likely residual World War I munitions buried beneath the Public Safety building. During World War I, AU was used as a testing site for military weapons, including ammunition and chemical weapons. Following the war, land owned by the University was used to bury hazardous materials and remaining munitions, The Eagle previously reported.

The University is not demolishing the building based on a recommendation from ACE, said Chris Gardner, a communications official at the Baltimore District of ACE. Kelly Alexander, AU’s director of public relations, said the University notified ACE in May 2016 that it intended to demolish the building in conjunction with the opening of East Campus and wanted ACE to finish its remediation work required for the area.

“The Army Corps allocated funds in its current budget for the [building’s] remediation work and is in the process of developing the work and safety plans for this project,” Alexander said in an email.

“While we did not make any recommendations for the fate of the building [to university officials], we are coordinating with AU on the impending tearing down of the building so we can remediate the site in conjunction with the removal of the building,” Gardner said in an email.

Following the demolition, Dower wrote in his May 15 memo that AU expects ACE to conduct additional remediation activities in the area during the fall 2017 semester. Gardner said that these remediation activities will include support to construction crews during the removal of the existing facility “in the event that any remnants of past military use are encountered by crews on the site.”

“Once they get to the foundation, we would plan to have our crews carry out the rest of the removal,” Gardner said. “Once the foundation is removed, we would work to excavate a great deal of the material below the foundation as we work to remove debris. Our crews will also sample the soil, testing for any potential contaminants that could stem from past military activity and removing any contaminated soils.”

The timeframe for the removal project depends on what ACE encounters at the site, Gardner said. In the 2000s, Gardner said his organization cleared debris from areas adjacent to the Public Safety Building and expects to find more debris underneath it. He estimates the effort will take four to six months.

“How long it will take will ultimately depend on what we find, but the intent would be to remove any debris and to sample and remove any contaminated soil as quickly and efficiently as possible,” Gardner said.

hsamsel@theeagleonline.com