Logan Heights neighborbood to be demolished in 2017

Bliss to bulldoze & replace military housing development containing lead paint

POSTED: 02:41 PM MST Jan 30, 2013    UPDATED: 01:27 AM MST Jan 24, 2013 
EL PASO, Texas -

A military wife worried about the safety of her Logan Heights home sparked a community meeting.

The evening of Jan. 16, military housing contractor Balfour Beatty Communities hosted a forum at Logan Elementary School with Logan Heights residents concerned about lead paint and asbestos in their homes.

On Jan. 13 a meeting notice was posted on the Fort Bliss Homes facebook page. That was two days after a link to an ABC-7 story was posted to the page, in which military wife Stephanie Propst claimed her home contained harmful levels of lead paint.

Jan. 9, Propst approached ABC-7 with concerns about contaminants inside the military home in the Logan Heights neighborhood she shared with her husband and two children.

"Fort Bliss is aware that the Logan Heights homes were, for the most part, developed at a time when the government didn't fully understand the hazards of lead-based paint," said Fort Bliss spokesman, Maj. Joe Buccino. "We appreciate their concerns, we understand their concerns ... and we want to make them as comfortable and as safe as possible."

Buccino revealed Bliss has plans to demolish the Logan Heights housing development. In 2017 the neighborhood will be razed and new construction will begin, according to Buccino.

In the meantime, Buccino said Propst's claims are a concern to Fort Bliss, but he maintains they were addressed according to protocol. Balfour Beatty Communities found Propst a new home, extended her hotel stay, and paid for moving expenses and to clean her belongings.

Propst said her problems started when construction crews preparing to replace heating ducts in her home made an unwelcome discovery.

"The contractor said that there was lead-based paint in the house," said Propst.

According to Propst, her family was sent to a hotel, to avoid exposure to dust and debris, while repairs were made to her home. Wednesday evening, she found herself suddenly locked out of the home, after being told the hotel assistance would stop.

"Locks are changed, I can't get into my own home," Propst said as she choked through tears. "They didn't tell me."

Buccino said Propst wasn't locked out of her military home, but rather kept out for her own safety. Buccino maintains Propst was informed about the protocol that would require her to stay out of her home, but admitted it may not have been communicated properly.

"We'd just like to clarify," said Buccino. "Lead is only a hazard if it's consumed. If it becomes dust, it becomes somehow inhaled, obviously if it's eaten, if it's chipped, at that point that family should raise that concern with Balfour Beatty."

Balfour Beatty Communities spokeswoman Maureen Omrod said the Propst home did test positive for lead while the samples of dust and debris did not, but she maintained Propst was informed about the lockdown.

"We don't want people to feel that Fort Bliss has something to hide," said Buccino. "Balfour Beatty will host a meeting with a certified safety contractor who will address contaminants like asbestos or lead paint. Anything that would be a concern to a Logan Heights resident will be addressed."

ABC-7 was barred from the Jan. 16 meeting held by Balfour Beatty Communities, but according to Buccino, about 60 people attended, and most of the discussion centered on maintenance orders and lead paint.