published Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011

Charles A. Bell School demolition begins in Alton Park

Milton Jackson, the founder of Stop Toxic Pollution, discusses the lead-based paints peeling off the walls of the old Charles A. Bell school in Altton Park on Monday. The school was closed in the early 1990s, and Jackson has been working for years to have the school's asbestos tiles and lead paint cleaned up so the school could be demolished properly.
Milton Jackson, the founder of Stop Toxic Pollution, discusses the lead-based paints peeling off the walls of the old Charles A. Bell school in Altton Park on Monday. The school was closed in the early 1990s, and Jackson has been working for years to have the school's asbestos tiles and lead paint cleaned up so the school could be demolished properly.
Photo by Alex Washburn.

Construction workers thought they found the remains of a body Monday as they were tearing down the old Charles A. Bell School in Alton Park.

But police and the Hamilton County medical examiner said the bones, found in high grass near the back of the school, were from an animal.

"It scared us a bit at first," said Josh Robinson, operations manager with Tristar of America construction company, but it turned out to be a dead dog or a deer.

Robinson is among more than a dozen construction workers doing the first phase of demolition at the dilapidated school.

"It's coming down," he said. "I'd like to say within two or three weeks you won't see much of nothing here."

  • photo
    Milton Jackson the founder of Stop Toxic Pollution stands in a cavernous room of the old Charles A. Bell school in Chattanooga on Monday. The school was closed in the early 1990's and its lead based paints have peeled severely adding to the health hazards posed by asbestos tiles in the school.
    Photo by Alex Washburn /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Phase 1 includes removing the roof, metals and lead paint and asbestos abatement. In October, another company will do the final demolition, County Engineer Todd Leamon said. The site will be capped with clay and soil; then grass will be planted, he said.

Alton Park resident Milton Jackson said the demolition is "10 years too late, but it will be right on time if they get everything done. It will be good not to have asbestos blowing through the community."

Charles A. Bell School has been vacant since 1991, said Jackson, who has lived in Alton Park for more than 50 years and is the founder of Stop Toxic Pollution, a neighborhood environmental group.

Alton Park has several former industrial sites that are contaminated with chemicals, including the former Anchor Glass factory, the U.S. Pipe and Foundry site and Charles A. Bell, whose buildings and land contained asbestos, lead paint and creosote.

The 10-acre triangular site is covered with thigh-high beige grass that hides abandoned tires, rotting wood, rodents and the animal bones found Monday.

The community has asked for a place where children can have fun without walking a mile to the South Chattanooga Recreation Center, Jackson said. Residents have complained that their access to recreation is limited because a mile is too far for smaller children to walk.

The goal is to transform the school site into a ballfield, Jackson said, which would put a play area less than a block away from many homes.

The demolition is the result of a $200,000 Environmental Protection Agency grant awarded in 2009, Leamon said. The project also got $200,000 from the city and $200,000 from the county, he said.

All 13 of the construction crew members are graduates of the Brownfields Job Training Program, which trains Chattanooga residents for entry-level jobs in hazardous waste management, environmental cleanup and asbestos, mold and lead abatement.

Greg Walton went through the training program and is working at the site.

"It works," the Chattanooga resident said. "I had 18 days worth of training and was employed eight days after finishing the program."

Contact staff writer Yolanda Putman at or 423-757-6431.

about Yolanda Putman...

Yolanda Putman has been a reporter at the Times Free Press for 11 years. She covers housing and previously covered education and crime. Yolanda is a Chattanooga native who has a master’s degree in communication from the University of Tennessee and a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Alabama State University. She previously worked at the Lima (Ohio) News. She enjoys running, reading and writing and is the mother of one son, Tyreese. She has also ...

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fedup350 said...

!Hmmmm, They complain that they have to walk a mile to a Rec Center that has a gym and pool...I don’t have a Rec Center with a gym and pool within miles of my house, let alone walking distance. Reminds me of the story a little while back where the residents of the Villages of Alton Park (subsidized housing) were complaining that they had to go a little further to pay their alleged rent because money orders were no longer being taken. So now they don’t want to have to get off their non-working butts to walk a mile to a Rec center with a pool. Simply amazing. I pay my share of City and County taxes, including property taxes and I have none of those conveniences. Something is terribly wrong with this picture.

August 23, 2011 at 1:48 p.m.
01centare said...

fedup350, there you go again with your misinformation. The tenants at Alton Park Village do work and do pay rent. Just like tenants who rent rent control apartments in Red Bank, Harrison TN, Hixson, Ooltlewah and the likes. I do agree that having to walk a mile is a good thing. For sure, this is Milton Jackson(the widow chaser) speaking and Putman once again putting in her bad quotes. Both children and adults in that area walk all the time. It's doubtful that any of the people in that area has complained.

NCbegood, regardless of what you hear on the evening news, there are no more of a gang problem in that area than in your neck of the woods. Some black leaders have a tendancy to overstate issues of their communities in order to seek funds. They don't realize their words help to encourage racial stereotypes, racial profiling by police and other abuses at the hands of authority and others. They don't realize their words help to invite persecution. They don't realize others will turn their words around and use it as an excuse to exlude them.

August 23, 2011 at 8 p.m.
fedup350 said...

Sure 01centare they pay rent, $50? $75? It is some ridiculously small amount and not all of them work. One in the household might work while 5 more sit on the front porch all day drinking beer. You know that is true and if you deny that we will know who is twisting the facts. Millions have been poured into that part of town and for what? Gang bangers walking around in red with their pants around their ankles and cant speak English. I wish my rent were $50 a month. I wish I had a Rec Center with a gym and indoor pool in my neighborhood. I sure wouldn’t complaint about having to walk a mile to it and then demand another one be built in my back yard. You 01centare are the one putting out the misinformation.

August 23, 2011 at 8:19 p.m.
01centare said...

fedup350 said... Sure 01centare they pay rent, $50? $75?

Actually, fedup350, they pay rent based on income. Because of that some have been known to pay more on rent than some people pay on a mortgage. Did you know there are people living in rent controlled Condos in Red Bank, Harrison, Hixson, Ooltlewah, Collegedale who pay far less than some people living in what we view as public housing? That's how rent control works, fedup. You really need to do some research rather than listening to someone else and running with what they say.

August 23, 2011 at 9:53 p.m.
fedup350 said...

I know how section eight works I have some worthless relatives on it but that wasn't my ppimt. No one in hixson, harrison or ooltew is complaing about walking a mile to arec center. Why? Because they don't have one. You missed the pont again while making excuses.k

August 24, 2011 at 9:57 a.m.
fedup350 said...

And its not "rent control" it is subsidized housing. I.e. sucking6 on the govt tit. You need to do your research.

August 24, 2011 at 10:48 a.m.
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