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Weyauwega to raze building

The Weyauwega Common Council voted to raze the building at 118 E. Main St. A architectural report said the building is in danger of “imminent collapse.” James Card Photo

Danger of ‘imminent collapse’

By James Card

The Weyauwega Common Council voted to raze the building at 118 E. Main St. during a special meeting on Monday, July 31.

All council members voted yes except for Tim Litscher who abstained. He owns the building next door and they share a wall. He estimated that it might cost him $25,000 in electrical, masonry and roof work.

The meeting was a full house and 26 people were in the audience. During the public comments period, many people asked questions and some addressed the council at the podium.

Richard Rupno owns the building that is home to the Weymont Food Pantry and he is a keen observer of the older buildings on Main Street. He suggested to the council that if razing was an option, then why not also consider a renovation option.

“I just wish that if council decides to take action tonight and request bids for razing the entire building, then they simultaneously ask for bids for repairing that south façade because I strongly feel that would be cheaper in the long run and better for the city of Weyauwega if that building were to remain,” he said.

Kim Rogers, president of the Weyauwega Chamber of Commerce, told the council, “That was where my dentist was when I was in kindergarten. It’s a beautiful building and if we could save it and do something to stop the crumbling of the south side and try to preserve it for our character and some city pride—that would be worth trying,” she said.

There was a sobering moment when Craig Kubiak of Amundsen Davis, the city attorney, took the podium. He cited the architectural report and the message was clear: to pass a resolution to authorize him to go to court to get an order to raze the property.

“That does not preclude someone coming in and rescuing but we can’t wait much longer,” he said.

Citing the report, Kubiak said, “The building is in dire shape and definitely a danger to the citizens. I expect more bricks and stones will continue to fall and the front wall is in danger of collapse.”

He also cited other issues from the report and also from the building inspector: mold and deterioration on the inside, asbestos is present and repairs involved much more than tuck-pointing the south facade.

There will be no bidding process because of the urgent emergency situation. Kubiak said the process must be “done in days, not weeks.” He said the contractor must have insurance or post a bond and take full responsibility for the demolition work.

The city of Weyauwega will raze this building. James Card Photo

Public safety

Kubiak reiterated that the safety of Weyauwega citizens is of utmost importance and “We’ve got an architect’s report saying ‘imminent collapse.’”

At 118 E. Main St. more bricks and rock have fallen onto the sidewalk and the protective barrier on the sidewalk now extends past the curb. The front door is boarded up. Up near where the building adjoins the roof of Litscher’s building, more loose bricks teeter and lean towards the street.

Paying for the razing of the building will go to the property owners and will be charged to them on their taxes.

“We have the ability to go after the owners. There is already a judgment against them,” said Kubiak.

The title holder is a defunct corporation that was administratively dissolved as of 2012, yet someone continued paying property taxes and utilities on behalf of the dissolved corporation. The registered agent of the corporation is deceased.

Eventually, the city tracked down the Bennett siblings of Chicago that were successor to the defunct corporation. For years, they did not answer the city complaints or correspondence until the city obtained a court order to enter the building to inspect its architectural integrity.

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