Debris

The remnants of the former motel sat in piles off U.S. Highway 18 in Britt untouched for months this summer due to the detection of asbestos. Bergo Environmental Enterprises was hired by the city of Britt to test and remove asbestos earlier this year.

BRITT | The city of Britt is still considering legal action against Mason City-based asbestos and mold removal contractor Bergo Environmental Enterprises.

On Tuesday, Oct. 3, the city council unanimously voted to seek a second opinion from Steve Bakke, longtime Forest City attorney and president of the Iowa Municipal Attorney’s Association, about what it says is a costly mistake made by Bergo this summer.

“He said he’d be more than happy to give us an opinion if we wanted to do that,” said Mayor Ryan Arndorfer. “His general consensus left from the brief discussion was that verbal contracts can be just as binding as a written contract. That’s without seeing any of the communication obviously.”

This summer, the city of Britt hired Jeff Bergo, owner of Bergo Environmental Enterprises in Mason City, to test and remove asbestos for $970 and $1,675, respectively, at the former motel and greenhouse property along U.S. Highway 18 in preparation for a new commercial park.

After Bergo notified the city that the asbestos had been removed from the site, Bill Deibler Excavating of Garner began the demolition of the building and the removal of trees on the site.

But progress on the demolition was halted in July after officials with the Iowa Occupational Safety and Health Enforcement found asbestos on the site following its visit during the city’s hosting of the Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI) on July 25 — a finding that has cost the city time and money.

In late August, the city hired ECCO Midwest Inc. of Cedar Rapids for $45,550 to remove the asbestos-contaminated debris — a bid more than 20 times what the city paid Bergo initially — so it could continue work on the nine-lot commercial park.

At the same meeting, the council gave City Attorney Earl Hill the go-ahead to discuss the topic with a Des Moines attorney he knows since he doesn’t handle litigation himself, but little resolve has been made on the issue since then.

“I think it’s worth pursuing [a second opinion],” Councilor Mike Ostercamp said.

Councilor Curt Gast agreed, “I think we need to have it looked at.”

The council is already seeking a second opinion from Bakke about annexing property into the city limits.

Reach Reporter Ashley Stewart at 641-421-0533. Follow her on Twitter at GGastewart.

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