WEST ALEXANDRIA — Village Council discussed efforts to purchase and demolish a dilapidated property during a special meeting held on Thursday, April 8.
Village Administrator Adam Beneke updated council on the status of the former Twin Tavern, located at 10 N. Main St., during its Jan. 18 meeting, saying that the building was in danger of imminent collapse.
Councilmen Dan Utsinger and Zach Shafer first suggested purchasing and demolishing the property in Feb. 2020. The demolition is expected to cost around $130,000.
Mayor Jeff Hickey instructed Beneke to block off sidewalks, alleys and parking spaces adjacent to the building in January in hopes of mitigating the danger of a possible collapse. These efforts have caused issues of their own, however, as an eight-year-old boy suffered minor injuries April 7 after being struck by a car while crossing the street to avoid the barriers.
Council president Ashley Myers asked whether the village was willing to pay $4,900 in back taxes to demolish the building. Councilman Shannon Smith indicated that refusing to do so would likely prevent them from being able to acquire the property altogether.
“I think not paying the taxes would be a complete dealbreaker,” Smith said, stating the property’s current owners likely could not afford to do so. “If they’re that far behind, they can’t pay it.”
Council member Holly Robbins worried that agreeing to pay the taxes might set a troubling precedent, but ultimately came down in favor of doing so.
“While I hesitate, I understand that we’ve got to move forward,” Robbins said.
Utsinger was more blunt.
“I say we pay it and get it torn down,” he said.
Shafer ultimately moved to acquire and demolish the property, which was seconded by Utsinger. The motion passed by a margin of five-to-one, with Myers voting against.
Smith indicated he would speak to the Ohio Dept. of Transportation about temporarily closing down the section of S.R. 503 that passes in front of 10 N. Main and the Town Hall, meanwhile. Because 503 is a state route, the village does not possess the authority to shut it down, according to Smith.
“Tell them this building could fall on 503 and they’d be responsible for cleaning it up, not the village,” Myers said.
Also during Thursday’s meeting:
Robbins moved for the council to go into executive session near the top of the meeting to discuss pending litigation. Utsinger and Shafer voted against the motion, which was approved by a margin of 4 to 2. Council returned from executive session after approximately ten minutes and said that no decisions had been reached.
Council also discussed changes to the village’s employee handbook.
“I want to be able to vote on this at the next meeting and put it in place,” Hickey said.
Topics discussed included:
Shortening the current one-year probationary period for new employees to 90 days.
Instituting monthly or even bi-monthly performance evaluations.
The need to make the Town Hall building handicapped-accessible.
Whether rules against nepotism prevent members of the same household from serving within the same department or merely within the same command structure.
And whether to adopt a tobacco use policy, with Shafer and Utsinger suggesting that village buildings be made tobacco-free.
The next meeting of Village Council will take place on Monday, April 19 at the Fire & E.M.S. Building located at 8 Marty Lane.
Reach Anthony Baker at 937-683-4057 or on Facebook @mproperenglish