Asbestos red-tag in Old Snowmass |

Asbestos red-tag in Old Snowmass

Charles Agar
Aspen, CO Colorado

OLD SNOWMASS ” A Florida man and his 9- year­old son lost their Old Snowmass rental home after state officials found asbestos in siding their land­lord removed.

Vern Tokarczyk, who was rent­ing the home from Kenneth Moore of Carbondale, said he was shocked when workers began strip­ping the home of ceramic­tile siding, which Tokarczyk believed contained asbestos.

The siding removal was done earlier this month.

Tokarczyk notified his landlord who, he said, blew off his concerns. Then Tokarczyk called state and local officials.

A Pitkin County building inspector put a stop- work order on the job, and Wednesday officials from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment confirmed the tiles contained asbestos.

“Essentially, we’ve got two cleanups going,” said Christopher Dann, a spokesman with the state health department.

State officials notified Moore of the contamination and said the homeowner will pay for a licensed contractor to clean the home site in coming days, removing layers of soil from around the exterior of the home.

Any enforcement action is pend­ing, Dann said.

Tokarczyk stood up during pub­lic comment at Wednesday’s Pitkin County commissioners meeting and pleaded his case.

“We have no place to live,” Tokarczyk said. “I have no clothes, no furniture, no income.”

Tokarczyk said he has paid his rent through September, but when he confronted Moore about the demolition his landlord gave him three days to leave the premises.

In the meantime, Tokarczyk’s son is staying with friends, he said, and Wednesday he asked county officials for help. They said they can’t do anything.

“At this time, we can’t offer you a solution,” said Commissioner Michael Owsley, who suggested Tokarczyk work with area social service officials.

Tokarczyk said local officials offered vouchers for just three nights in a $100 hotel, but that isn’t enough.

“This Mr. Moore has got me in dire straits,” Tokarczyk said later.

Tokarczyk said Moore evicted him illegally and he’s had to leave the house with little more than the shirt on his back because of the contamination and ongoing investi­gation and cleanup.

State health officials said that after an evacuation they typically refer people to local assistance agencies and have no ability to pro­vide temporary housing.

Asbestos cleanup at a private home usually takes only a few days before homeowners can return, Dann said.

The home where Tokarczyk was living is slated for demolition and construction of a new 5,750­square- foot home, according to Moore.

The landlord said that after Tokarczyk left in the first week of August, he planned to put new sid­ing on the house and rent it out to another tenant until crews begin construction in early 2008.

Moore said he did not know the material was asbestos. In fact, he brought a sample of the tile to a builder’s supply store to find out what it was before removing the siding himself Aug. 8, Moore said.

“I don’t cheat people in this town. I’ve always been here and I’m honest. This guy is not owed anything,” Moore said. “I told him to move out a long time ago.”

Moore could not be reached by phone after it was revealed that samples tested positive for asbestos, but earlier said he would do what he had to make the situa­tion right.

Charles Agar’s e-mail address is