The Van Wert County Courthouse

Monday, Sep. 28, 2020

Council helps with Home Guard problem

DAVE MOSIER/independent editor

The collapse of a portion of the Home Guard Building was also topic of discussion for Monday’s meeting of Van Wert City Council.

Economic Development Director Stacy Adam talks about issues with the Home Guard Building while Seth Baker, executive secretary of the Van Wert County Foundation (right) listens. Dave Mosier/Van Wert independent

Economic Development Director Stacy Adam, Seth Baker of the Van Wert County Foundation, and Mitch Price of Main Street Van Wert all attended Monday’s meeting to update Council members on what is being done to make the building safe for the public.

Both Adam and Baker provided information on attempts to secure a federal Brownfield grant that would help pay the cost of demolishing the building, which is estimated at $350,000. Council was also asked to help cut through some red tape that could result from the downtown’s pending designation as a historical district by sending a letter to federal officials noting that the partial collapse of a portion of the northwest corner of the building onto North Market Street had created an “imminent threat to public health and safety”.

Council unanimously approved sending the letter.

Development officials are also currently working with Alexander & Bebout on efforts to stabilize the condition of the building, which had been neglected by previous owners for decades, while also placing a construction fence around the area for help maintain the safety of the public.

During his report, Mayor Ken Markward provided a list of public information meetings scheduled information on the city charter government issue, which is on the general election ballot this November.

Meetings will be held starting September 21 and will run through October 30 in City Council Chambers on the second floor of the Municipal Building, 515 E. Main St. (click here for a meeting schedule). In addition to the informational meetings, charter government information will be placed on social media as well, as well as local media outlets and the city website.

Fourth Ward Councilman Anthony Davis said he felt the meetings and information were necessary to inform the public, noting he has heard “a lot of untruths out there” about the charter government issue.

Safety-Service Director Jay Fleming talked about pavement projects on Main and Washington streets and also noted that the new Industrial Drive lift station was not completed.

City Auditor Martha Balyeat was cautious in her assessment that city finances were someone better than had been projected, with the General Fund down approximately 6 percent from estimates made prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, while she had estimated a 10 percent decrease.

Council President Jon Tomlinson agreed that the situation, so far, has not been as bad as projected.

“It could be a lot worse,” he noted, while also thanking department heads and employees for doing their part in keeping expenses down.

Law Director John Hatcher talked about code enforcement cases, noting that efforts to clean up junk and trash and weeds around certain residences is beginning to gain some momentum, and adding that other city residents are also helping by reporting problems to city officials

Health-Service-Safety Committee Chair Bill Marshall agreed with Hatcher.

“I think we’re making a difference (in cleaning up problem properties),” he said.

Several pieces of financial legislation were adopted by City Council, including a then-and-now certificate, a resolution accepting rates set by the County Tax Commission, and a number of supplemental appropriations.

An ordinance doubling the fee the city charges to mow properties with weed issues. The measure passed 5-2, with First Ward Councilman Jeff Agler voting no because he feels the new fees aren’t high enough, and Davis also voting no because he feels the additional fee will not likely result in better compliance by those who currently don’t mow their yards.

The next meeting of Van Wert City Council will be at 6:30 p.m. Monday, September 28, in City Council Chambers on the second floor of the Municipal Building, 515 E. Main St.

POSTED: 09/15/20 at 7:00 am. FILED UNDER: News