According to a report filed by the Kiowa County Sheriff’s Office a second empty building on Highway 287, known as East Maine Street within the Eads city limits had an out-of-control vehicle crash into it.
The KCSO statement read, “On Thursday, June 23, 2022, at approximately 11:32 AM, the Kiowa County Sheriff’s Office received a call to 403 East Maine Street in the Town of Eads for a single vehicle accident. The driver of a 2018 Ford F-150 had lost control of his vehicle while exhibiting speed. The 46-year-old driver, Sean McGuigan from Las Vegas, Nevada was taking part in a large multi-state racing event that was traveling through the area. The Sheriff and his deputies investigated the crash and summonsed the driver into court for Exhibition of Speed and Careless driving resulting in Injury. The driver and passenger were evaluated and treated by Emergency Medical Services and released on scene.”
McGuigan was part of the Rocky Mountain Race Week group. The organization’s website lists the event as “the ultimate test for drag racers.” The Rocky Mountain Race Week’s goal is for members or participants to compete on quarter-mile strips across Colorado, Nebraska and Kansas every day during a full week in mid-June.
The schedule for this week’s mid-June race included the following: June 18 – Great Bend, KS at the SRCA Drag Strip; June 19 – Kearney, NE at the Kearney Raceway Park; June 20 – Drive Day; June 21 – Morrison, CO at Bandimere Speedway; June 22 – Pueblo, CO at Pueblo Motorsports; June 23 – Drive Day; June 24 – Great Bend, KS at the SRCA Drag Strip.
June 23, the day of the accident, was a Drive Day and Eads was a milestone stop on their way to the final race in Great Bend, KS the next day. Milestone stops require all drivers to stop and take a photo of a designated milestone with their car showing their race number.
A participant and eyewitness on the scene said the hundreds of cars had left Pueblo that morning and the roadside park in Eads was a milestone stop on their way to Great Bend as they were scheduled to head east down Highway 96. When the accident occurred many of the racers stayed in Eads and parked up and down the highway to ensure their comrade was not injured in the wreck before proceeding east. Add to the fact that a large amount of traffic normally goes through Eads on Highway 287 on a daily basis, the scene was congested to be sure.
The building that was severely damaged at 403 East Maine Street used to be a convenience store up until the 1990s when it became used for storage only. Part of the property that the pickup missed still serve as apartments where people live. This property is the second one on East Maine Street that was greatly damaged due to a vehicle on the highway losing control and running into it. In the fall of 2020, the building directly south from the roadside park also on East Maine Street on the highway was damaged when a pickup driven recklessly by an individual who had stolen a couple vehicles in Texas and Oklahoma and who was eluding law enforcement at the time, went through the east wall of the building and became lodged inside.
One would think these old buildings that have now been damaged due to vehicles crashing into them and aren’t used anymore should just be torn down. Afterall, if they weren’t before, they certainly are eyesores now and set a bad image for our community to travelers that come through. More than one person has observed that the buildings are so old and damaged already they should just be torn down.
Yes, that seems like the obvious solution. But, unfortunately, it’s not that easy. According to an area economic developer, old buildings like these contain lead paint and asbestos. There have been instances in the past where an owner tried to tear down their own dilapidated building and was majorly fined by the CDPHE. Even the contractor who did the tear down had their equipment confiscated in that instance.
In addition, Tina Adamson, county administrator said that the county’s landfill is prohibited to take debris from torn down buildings unless the contents of the materials have been permitted with the state. Adamson stated, “Before an old building is torn down you have to apply for and receive a permit from the state (CDPHE).” Of course, a permit such as that won’t be given unless a state inspector evaluates whether the building has dangerous materials within.
And, according to another economic developer who has asked the serious questions, you can’t just take the refuse and bury it out in the country—even if it’s on your own land.
That is why old buildings throughout these small towns sit and slowly become an empty, abandoned eye-sore over time. The owners in these small towns are terrified of being fined if they try to do something about them, so they don’t do anything.
Luckily, the CDPHE has just recently identified this as an issue and is partnering with a non-profit called Brownsfields that is working to provide funding to local governments or non-profits like our economic development foundations to take care of the removal of these buildings. In addition, beginning in July, small towns like Eads or non-profits within the county can earn Colorado Tax Credits for cleaning up the Brownsfield sites, like the old building across from the roadside park. They can then turn around and sell the cost of the cleanup as a 50% tax credit to investors.
Cindy McLoud with the Kiowa County Economic Development Foundation stated, “We don’t know for sure if the old buildings up on the highway even have asbestos or lead paint or other issues with cleaning them up. But the landfill won’t take refuse unless there is a guarantee they know what is in the rubble. Therefore, we are applying for an assessment grant to analyze as many of these types of buildings as possible at one time. This won’t cost the building owners anything. If it is determined there is a problem that needs an alleviation plan, then as a non-profit we have some options to get funding to pay for the plan and the clean-up. In addition, the tax credits help to pay KCEDF for their work getting the property cleaned up and ready to sell or build on.”
It seems unlucky that not one, but two, out-of-control vehicles would greatly damage old buildings up on the highway within the city limits of Eads in a span of just over a year. But perhaps this is a sign for the community, and maybe in the long run, these two incidents have served as a catalyst that will help our community find a solution on how we can clean up that area of blight and turn Eads into a more attractive community that travelers will see as they come through our wonderful little town.
If you own an old building that you suspect might contain lead, asbestos or other contaminants and you would like to have it torn down in order to sell the property or rebuild on the property, please contact McLoud at the Kiowa County Economic Development Foundation at 719-438-2200. She might just have a solution for you.