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CITY COUNCIL MEETING 05/27/14 (Mural Wall, Dog Park)

City Opts to Not Pursue Mural Wall Repairs
May. 29, 2014

[See related article April 15, 2014.]

CAPTION: The south-facing wall of the building at 504 Washington Street once supported a large mural of Graham's Mill Bridge. The mural was later removed because of safety concerns about the wall. A structural engineer told City Council members Tuesday evening that the wall needs repairs.

C-T Photo / Catherine Stortz-Ripley

Repairs to the wall which once displayed a large mural of Graham's Mill Bridge at the northwest corner of Clay and Washington streets are estimated to be around $100,000, and city council members on Tuesday night gave a general consensus to not pursue repairs. The building, located at 504 Washington Street, is owned by Ken Mata but another party had expressed interest in purchasing the building for use as a community arts venue as long as the mural wall would be fixed. Dave Weber, a structural engineer of All State Engineering who was hired to inspect the wall, presented his findings to the council during their regular meeting Monday evening at City Hall. He said the wall is a "loosely stacked pile of bricks with sand that used to be mortar." The wall in question was intended to be an interior wall but became an exterior wall when the building directly to its south (formerly the Ritz Theater) was torn down about 20 years ago. This particular wall is made of softer brick, the engineer said and was not intended for exterior use. He also noted that the top parapet was not maintained, which also contributed to its dilapidation. "You have this interior wall that is softer brick, that has an ill-maintained parapet, and it's dilapidated especially at the base of the wall," Weber said. "What I'm seeing is that not only do you have to fix the parapet, you're really looking at a partial rebuild and re-pointing of the wall first. In a nutshell, where I am on this structure here is, I would question how safe it is in the long run. You can walk up to the base of that wall and pull bricks out by hand."

Shortly after the Ritz Theater building was razed, a wall was erected and attached to the remaining building. On this new wall, the mural was painted. Within the last year or two, the mural was removed because of safety reasons. Since that time, the original wall that was shared between the two buildings has been exposed. "What we are looking at now... that should never have been left being an exterior wall," said Councilman-at-Large David Moore. Weber explained that the wall was a shared party wall and it is porous, which accelerates dilapidation. He said that since it was a shared wall, it must be determined where the property line is and whose obligation it is to fix the wall, depending upon who owns it and who created the situation. City Attorney Robert Cowherd stated that the city owns half the wall. "But, I think the law is, basically, once you remove your use of the south wall, then it becomes the north owner's property," Cowherd said. The old Ritz Theater building was razed by a private individual through community donations because it was an eyesore in the downtown area. Second Ward Councilman Wayne Cunningham said that when the building was removed there were no plans as to how the remaining building should be left. The empty lot was given to the city for use as a park area. "It's my feelings that, as a city, we think the wall is very ugly," Cunningham said. "Obviously, it can't be a patch repair. The other thing is that I don't feel like the city has an obligation to fix a private individual's wall with taxpayers' money." Weber said that the problem is that the deteriorating wall can't really be covered because it needs repair. "It needs repaired because it so dilapidated that it is very costly," he said. "I would say that if that building is going to be occupied I would probably monitor it on a regular basis. It needs to be repaired."

After hearing the engineer's report and reviewing the proposed costs involved to fix the wall, the council decided that the city should not pursue repairs. "It is the building owner's obligation to fix the wall, if the wall should be fixed," Cowherd said. "It doesn't mean the city can't fix it, but you don't have an obligation to do it."

Other concerns were raised regarding the condition of the rest of the building. "We are not responsible for the inside of the building," Moore said. "Other issues of building may need to be fixed. Where do you draw the line? Even if we try to fix the exterior of the wall to look better so we can eventually put a mural on there, that's not dealing with all the other problems. That's where I have a problem getting involved with that because I don't know where you stop." Cunningham agreed. "I don't think the city has any obligation to do anything with this building at all," he said. "I think that obligation should be between the seller and the buyer."

The council members present - Moore, Cunningham, 1st Ward Councilman Reed Dupy and 4th Ward Councilman Paul Howard - agreed to not pursue repairs. Third Ward Councilman Tom Douglas was not present. Weber stated that he did not believe the building, at this time, is dangerous enough to merit condemnation.

Last month, Carol Gregg, representing the newly-incorporated Cultural Corner Art Guild and Gallery, explained to city council members that the group would like to purchase the building as a venue for local and area member artists to display their artwork as well as provide space for them to work on their pieces and offer classes. Members of that group were present at Monday night's meeting and heard the engineer's report. [See related article April 15, 2014.]

Council OKs Concept for Dog Park
May 28, 2014

City Council members accepted the park board's recommendation to establish a dog park at Mill's Park near Boehner and Clay Streets in the southwest area of Chillicothe. Josh Norris, director of Parks and Recreation, presented a report during the council meeting. He was accompanied by Dave Mapel who, with his wife, began efforts to establish a dog park in memory of their daughter, Tina Mapel, who died in January at the age of 24. Norris said that previous park boards had discussed establishing a dog park, but no action was ever taken. Earlier this year, Mapel presented his idea for a dog park, and the park board unanimously voted to proceed further with plans and asked it be brought before the council for consideration. Mapel presented an illustration of the proposed dog park. The park would still be owned and maintained by the city as it is now, leaving in place the playground equipment that is already there and adding a chain-link fence around the entire area. The area would be divided into three sections: large dog area, small dog area, and the family playground area. A fund was already established in Tina's name and has several thousand dollars in memorial donations and from fundraising events. However, there is not yet enough money to purchase the chain-link fence since the estimated cost of the fencing is $16,000. There is water hookup on site. There would be some minimal continued expense such as the need to purchase trash can liners and doggie waste bags, and Mapel is considering ways for continued funding, including an annual benefit softball tournament. He also said plans are being made to pursue grant funding. Kyle Ross, a Boy Scout working on his Eagle Scout project, is helping with fundraising efforts. Community members and friends of the family have shown interesting in wanting to donate benches and trees. He also said the dog park would not be just for dogs. "It's for people... a gathering place where people can meet other people with similar interests." The idea of the dog park was supported by the council. Mapel anticipates if the city could purchase the fencing, the Tina Mapel funds could provide the rest. He would like to use incoming money to replace the money the city would provide for the fence. Although giving approval to the park Tuesday evening, the council will need to consider how to fund the project. Mapel hopes the park could be established by fall.

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