FORREST CITY, AR (abc24.com) - A deadline delayed. Property owners had weeks to cleanup a pile of rubble in Forrest City, Arkansas after a massive fire in the heart of the city destroyed historic buildings.
The cleanup hasn't happened yet and there’s no telling when it will be done. A state government agency says there are environmental concerns that have to be addressed before the cleanup.
“No. You will not see that cleaned up July 1st,” said Forrest City Mayor Larry Bryant. He's trying to work with the property owners in meeting those concerns instead of taking a hard-line with the owners.
“It's an eyesore for the city. I don't know what the problem is but they need to clean it up,” said Forrest City resident Christine Wynne.
Bryant says there may be asbestos in the debris. Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality says it must be tested before the cleanup.
“We’re trying to work with them, at the present time to see if we could come to some form of agreement where we do the asbestos testing for them and they'll pay the lab fees and from there we'll take the next step,” Bryant said.
The test results could take a month. Add the time it could take to remove it and the cleanup itself and this pile of debris could be here a while. Even the mayor doesn't have a timeline for when it will be done.
“It's impossible for me to tell you a definite answer. You can go to Wynne and find buildings according to ADEQ that have been burned out more than a year and they're still working with them,” Bryant said.
Forrest City residents fear it could take that long or worse.
“It's not going to get cleaned up. It's a lot of stuff in Forrest City that they say they're going to clean up, but it never gets cleaned up,” said resident Katrina Wynne.
Forrest City's mayor is still optimistic. Once, or if, the debris is removed, a farmer's market could take the place of the buildings that were destroyed.