City begins 2021 eliminating problem site which surfaced in 2012

By Dave Marner, Managing Editor
Posted 1/13/21

Owensville’s Board of Aldermen begins 2021 taking care of a what was potential public health problem — first addressed back in 2012 — which, to date, has cost the city more than …

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City begins 2021 eliminating problem site which surfaced in 2012

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Owensville’s Board of Aldermen begins 2021 taking care of a what was potential public health problem — first addressed back in 2012 — which, to date, has cost the city more than $15,000.

As owners of the former Fawcett family property at 612 South First Street, city officials are now planning for the demolition of the two-story brick home which sits empty at the corner of First and Franklin.

The city of Owensville became the legal owner of the property following a July 22 “judgment by default” ruling in 2020 by Circuit Judge Craig E. Hellmann. The city obtained what is termed a “simple fee title” to quiet the title to the property after repeated attempts to notify Fawcett family members of court action had failed.

City elected officials had paid the back taxes on the property back in January 2020 and then proceeded with the court request to obtain the title.

According to city records, the legal fees to obtain the property have reached $6,698.15 between the period from 2014 through 2020. 

An exact figure was not available on legal fees which may have been spent pertaining to the site prior to 2014. The city is not required to keep records of accounts payable expenditures past a period of five years following an audit, according to city staff. Therefore, following the state’s records retention policy, records from prior to 2014 were not readily available and may have been shredded for disposal.

Figures available, however, show the city has paid out $15,520.32 related to a 2012 cleanup of the building’s flooded basement and related lawn mowing costs since then, along with the legal fees and court costs cited previously. Of that total, $5,265 was paid to a licensed pumping service to remove stagnant water and debris from the structure. That cost, like others, have been assessed to the property.

Aldermen in early 2020 authorized Ward 1 Alderman Kevin McFadden to pay $2,057 in back taxes owed against the property in the city’s effort to acquire the legal rights to the property.

At the time in early 2020, the city had special assessments of $8,852 assigned to the property.

“I’d like to see it cleaned up,” said City Administrator Randy Blaske on Tuesday.

Aldermen revisited the property briefly at their Dec. 21 meeting when Mayor John Kamler mentioned the city now owned the corner lot and deteriorating brick structure.

Blaske said the city is seeking direction from their contracted engineer on protocol for demolishing the structure. The city is looking into requirements for inspections to determine if there are contaminants such as asbestos which would require a licensed abatement. If there is no contamination issue with the site, Blaske said the city is ready to proceed with bidding out the demolition.

The city’s engineer was “spearheading” the inspection details, Blaske said. No update was available as of Tuesday early afternoon. Blaske said he expected an update perhaps as early as the board’s committee meeting Thursday evening starting at 5:30. The board is scheduled to discuss several public works projects. 

If not Thursday, Owensville’s Board of Aldermen will have the chance to discuss the issue when it meets again in a regular session at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 18, due to the federal holiday on Monday.

Blaske added that he and Jeff Arnold, the city’s new code enforcement official, would be reviewing other sites around town to see if they warrant seeking orders of condemnation, and potentially demolition, if structures are not repaired to city code.

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