Hopeful Hyart progress

David Peck

Repair project moving forward with asbestos remediation soon

Progress has been made in recent days regarding the project to repair Lovell’s historic Hyart Theatre following the Christmas Eve day water line break that sent water pouring into the theater lobby and out the front doors.

After the water was shut off when the broken pipe was noticed on Dec. 24 and Kleen Kare of Powell employed drying machines and dehumidifiers for several days, the next step, as required by the Hyart’s insurance carrier, was an asbestos study. That was performed on Jan. 4 and the samples sent to Northern Industrial Hygiene of Billings for analysis, according to Hyart Redevelopment Committee president Mike Steenbakkers.

Asbestos was found, he said, and must be abated before repair work can be done.

“Testing was done on the upstairs floor tiles and the textured ceiling (in the lobby),” Steenbakkers said. “The texture material was found to have asbestos, requiring the abatement.”

The Hyart board filed paperwork for an asbestos abatement permit with the Wyoming Dept. of Environmental Quality and sought three bids for asbestos remediation as required by the insurance company. The board received three bids from companies specializing in asbestos abatement.

“They have to be licensed and approved for asbestos remediation,” Steenbakkers said. “Only certain companies are allowed to do asbestos removal.”

Workers removing asbestos must wear special suits during the removal process and a multi-stage cleaning/decontamination trailer is used during the process, he noted.

The project is in the midst of a 10-day DEQ required waiting period, Steenbakkers said, but the insurance company has selected a contractor for the asbestos removal: Safetech Inc. of Billings. He said he hopes the remediation work can proceed sooner than later.

“Our understanding is that Safetech will be able to jump on it pretty quickly, though we don’t have a start date,” Steenbakkers said. “Then we can determine what needs to be repaired. At this point (due to the asbestos) we haven’t been able to let contractors in.

“It (the asbestos) needs to be cleaned up before we can determine what work needs to be done, how much and when we can start. We’re waiting to see how it cleans up.”

Steenbakkers said he hopes the project can really get rolling soon so the Hyart can begin showing movies again. The theater has been closed since the first night of “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish” on Friday, Dec. 23. The water pipe broke the next afternoon.

“My wish is that, once the asbestos has been abated, we can open for business even before repairs are completed, though I don’t know if the insurance company would allow that,” Steenbakkers said. “My goal is to open the doors as soon as possible.”