Full inspection to determine fate
By James Card
More bricks have tumbled into the street and road barriers and warning tape block the sidewalk at 118 E. Main St. so pedestrians do not get conked in the head. More cracks are appearing the once-handsome masonry of the old building.
On March 20, the city council convened in a closed session to with legal counsel to decide their next move on how to handle the crumbling building.
Their decision was unanimous: a court order will begin the legal process to inspect the property because the property owner has not been responsive, according to city officials.
The inspection will be for the entire building, interior and exterior.
“It’s taken forever to get a hold of them,” said Mayor Jack Spierings.
Many letters sent by certified mail went unanswered. On public records the building is recorded as being owned by WTB Land Co. LLC and mailing information leads to Thomas or Wendy Bennett at a Chicago address. All of the taxes and utilities are paid. Nothing is owed on the property.
Eventually the city was able to make contact with a son and daughter.
The property owner brought in a contractor to look at the exterior of the building who determined it would cost significantly more than anyone thought to make repairs.
“At that point there has been no responsive since. That was just the exterior façade. The conversation of the council was: that was just the exterior parts. What’s the roof like? What the interior like? That’s certainly going to have other impacts,” said City Administrator Jeremy Schroeder.