Why is lead paint still a major issue in Lewiston? Given the amount of money spent during 20 years or more to resolve, I was shocked to hear that there is still a significant amount of rental property with this hazard present. It is estimated that there were 242 children affected by lead paint poisoning in Lewiston between 2012 and 2016.
Apparently it’s about cost — it is expensive for owners to maintain buildings in a safe manner. It is expensive for the city to take over unhealthy properties and demolish. But maybe it is time to look at other costs — the cost for public health, special education and more required to pay for those poisoned. Some federal funds are used each year, but even some of that is geared, not to cleanup, but, instead, for education of those at risk.
Lewiston is expanding untaxed property at a rate four times that of taxed property, so it would seem Lewiston is really not that worried about losing tax revenue. Perhaps it is time for the City Council to take a stand — make lead-paint abatement a priority and fine those who do not comply.
If that is too costly, make it mandatory that rental property cannot change owners until all remediation of lead paint has been completed, and no city funds can be used to pay rents for those contaminated buildings.
It is time for change. If residents want Lewiston to have a better image, lead abatement is one cleanup residents should all support.
Robert Reed, Lewiston