Million dollar Capitol cleanup project underway

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DENVER (KDVR) – Workers have started the cleanup and restoration of the State Capitol, damaged by vandals during riots that broke out in late May. Vandals broke windows and doors and have continued to spray paint graffiti.

The Colorado Department of Personnel and Administration oversees maintenance of the Capitol Complex. They have been assessing the damage since the end of May. They say it is a complicated and delicate process.

Communication manager Doug Platt said, “This is probably the most important historic building in our state and it’s our job to preserve it. This an architecturally significant building and we have to keep it historic and keep it as pristine as we can. This is native Colorado granite. It’s very porous. And so the paint tends to seep into the rock. It’s not something so simple as coming along with your garden variety power washer and some Mr. Clean and spraying it off. You can’t use a wire brush because that damages the surface of the stone. We will go back over it repeatedly until we do the best we can. It may require 4-5-6 passes of chemicals and power washing and even there may be some ghosting left that it will take time to fade.”

Platt said areas that get more sun are more difficult to clean. He added, “There’s a difference between the red paint, the black paint and the green paint. A lot of balancing that goes on.”

In addition, the damage is ongoing. He said workers found fresh tagging on areas that were just cleaned this weekend. “This is a perfect example of if you try to put an estimate on how long it will take. Well, this was pretty clean until yesterday, and now it’s going to take more time to remediate this area.”

DPA Executive Director Kara Veitch said, “We have been addressing these issues since day one as they have arisen, but unfortunately, those efforts have largely gone unnoticed as vandalism continued every day for weeks. We are dedicated to returning these historic buildings to a pristine state, but we need to do so judiciously to ensure we don’t further damage the buildings. We are committed to being responsible with the taxpayers’ dollars while doing this job the right way.”

The repairs will take several months, with an estimate price tag of more than one million dollars. Platt said, “It’s essentially tax payer dollars at this point. The emergency fund and the state risk management fund are funded with tax payers dollars.”

Many people have volunteered to help cleanup. Platt suggested, “I say anything on the ground is fair game. People want to come clean sidewalks, parking lots, signs, light fixtures, those types of things, but the building itself, this granite is such a sensitive stone surprisingly as strong as it is, we really have to make sure this gets cleaned correctly so we don’t create more damage that was created initially by the tagging.” 

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