EPA begins Dico building demolition, city could save $191K on its share

By: - July 19, 2021 3:36 pm
Dico site

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency contractors on Monday began tearing down buildings at the former Dico site, where a professional soccer stadium is planned. (Photo courtesy of city of Des Moines)

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Monday began tearing down the most contaminated buildings at a Des Moines Superfund site chosen for a proposed professional soccer stadium and other development.

“It’s a huge milestone,” Des Moines Assistant City Manager Pam Cooksey said in an interview. “It’s been decades in the making.”

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency contractors on Monday began clearing contaminated buildings at the former Dico site, where a professional soccer stadium is planned. (Photo courtesy of city of Des Moines)

The 43-acre former Dico site has been a longtime eyesore along Martin Luther King Parkway and a major western entrance to downtown. Now, the city wants to redevelop it for the soccer stadium, hotels, businesses, residences, a plaza and better accesses to the nearby Raccoon River.

Groundwater pollution with the cancer-causing solvent TCE prompted the EPA to order more than  three decades of treatment that will continue with a new system. 

EPA had been working on asbestos removal and other preparations for about three weeks at the site before building demolition began Monday. The demolition is expected to take a month.

“Safely taking down these buildings sets the stage for the city of Des Moines to lead future redevelopment of this site,” Acting EPA Region 7 Administrator Edward Chu said in a statement. “We are excited for the future of this property and that of Des Moines, as this site will transform from a dilapidated industrial eyesore into a community gem in the heart of the city.”

The federal agency will tear down three contaminated buildings in the southwest part of the site. The city will then demolish an old office building and one other building, neither of which was severely contaminated. 

The Des Moines City Council on Monday will consider accepting a $731,894 bid from Iowa Demolition. The engineers’ estimate was $923,000, so the city stands to save about $191,000 if it selects the lower bid. The city project drew seven bids.

Krause Group wants to build a stadium downtown for a new professional soccer franchise. (Image courtesy of Pro Iowa)

Court agreement

A court in February approved a settlement with Dico Inc. and Titan Tire Co. that included a city takeover of the property. Nearly $3 million of the $11.5 million settlement will pay for EPA’s demolition of the contaminated buildings and for the replacement groundwater treatment system, EPA said.

Titan International is the parent company of Dico Inc. and Titan Tire Co. Over the years, pesticides, steel wheels and tires were made on the property.

The site south of Des Moines’ western downtown area has been on the Superfund list since 1983.

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Perry Beeman
Perry Beeman

Perry Beeman has nearly 40 years of experience in Iowa journalism and has won national awards for environmental and business writing. He has written for The Des Moines Register and the Business Record, where he also served as managing editor. He also is former editorial director of Grinnell College. He co-authored the recently published book, "The $80 Billion Gamble," which details the lottery-rigging case of Eddie Tipton.