By Kent Gray

Triplicate staff writer

Preparations began yesterday to remove an infamous Crescent City landmark.

andquot;This is what we wanted done all along,andquot; said Crescent City City Councilmember C. Ray Smith about the the planned demolition of the building on the corner of Front Street and Highway 101.

George Mayer of G. R. Construction Company, who was hired to take down the building, said he must first determine whether or not the building contains asbestos before it can be knocked down.

andquot;We've moved the equipment in and we're taking down the suspended ceiling and light fixtures, but we still must check for asbestos,andquot; Mayer said.

The building and carport, the latter of which has a hole in its side from a car collision two years ago, were declared as blight by the city. City Council members accused the owners of the property, Darryl and Jean Lovaas, of taking too much time to correct the problem.

andquot;Unfortunately we had to use a hammer to get some action there,andquot; said Smith. andquot;If we grant them an extension to get it fixed, and I say andquot;ifandquot; because it has to go back before the City Council, I think it will be for a good cause.andquot;

Two other buildings on the property, which are reportedly older but in better structural shape, are being renovated, Mayer said.

Smith, the most outspoken councilman on city blight issues, was clearly disappointed when the city planning commission allowed the Lovaas family 60 days to remedy the blight last April. Yesterday, Smith said he was content that movement is finally taking place.

andquot;My feeling is George Mayer will get the job done and do it as fast as possible,andquot; said Smith.

Lovaas attorney George Mavris told the planning commission in April that the owners had good reason for delays in cleaning up the property.

A gas station on the property years ago had leaked gasoline from its tanks and contaminated the soil. Darryl Lovaas said tests had to be conducted and a remediation plan had to be approved by the Regional Water Quality Control Board before he could sell the property.

Negotiations between Lovaas prominent Crescent City businessman Baird Rumiano, who had plans to redevelop the property, fell through last month because of the cleanup costs.

Smith said yesterday that he was happy as long as progress is being made in the city - especially in the clearly visible business sector.

andquot;This is a primary concern for us, to clean up the city along the 101 corridor. After that we will be moving our focus inland,andquot; said Smith.