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Memorial Hall to be stabilized for safety

Memorial Hall is falling down.

Literally.

Or so says Solid Rock Construction, which is now authorized to stabilize the building with $185,000 from the Debt Retirement Sinking Fund after Ironton City Council passed emergency legislation at its meeting Thurs-day.

Mayor Rich Blankenship told council the results of the company’s inspection has forced him to close Market Street between Fourth and Lawrence streets and the sidewalk on the Fourth Street side. He said he will likely close some parking spaces on Fourth Street that are in close proximity to the building.

“I have temporarily closed Market Street due to this threat. I am hereby declaring an emergency necessary for public safety,” said Blankenship, who wanted the measure passed on an emergency basis in part so bid requirements for the work would be suspended.

In its analysis, Solid Rock Construction said the settling of a supporting wall section has caused the roof framing to increase outward pressure on the exterior masonry wall parallel with Market Street. The company says the increased lateral stress increases the danger of the wall falling into the street and perhaps into adjacent buildings on Market Street.

The company will remove asbestos ($46,300), remove the roof ($131,788) and stabilize the remaining parts of the structure with cables and beams ($5,422). It is not a demolition, but rather a stabilization and future restoration efforts, including those by members from American Legion Post 433, are still in play.

“I am fearful that without this immediate action to stabilize the building, the likelihood of collapse and the danger to anyone in proximity will result in catastrophic liability and loss to the city,” Blankenship said.

Council also passed an ordinance that increases dumping rates for non-local septic haulers and changes the definition of what constitutes a local hauler. Little’s Inc. President Dennis Little said Blankenship has not allowed him to dump in the city and asked council if he would be permitted to do so if he meets the requirements of the new ordinance.

Blankenship said he has the discretion to disallow anyone from dumping if he sees fit and is evaluating whether Little’s will be allowed to dump in the city again.

“We need to make sure it is a legitimate business in the city,” Blankenship said. “We need to evaluate the legitimacy of this business and what got us to this point.”

Blankenship and some council members said during the ordinance’s consideration that the business met the minimum requirements and had a presence in the city only in appearance.

Little said he followed the rules set forth by the city.

The measure passed 4-2 with Council President Bob Cleary and Councilman Frank Murphy voting against it. Councilmen Mike Lutz, Leo Johnson, Chuck O’Leary and Kevin Waldo voted in favor of it. Councilman Butch Huff was absent.

In other business, Council suspended the rules and passed several ordinances on an emergency basis, including:

– An ordinance that repeals the city’s law on the minimum requirement for competitive bids. Instead items of $5,000 or more, the city will now follow Ohio Revised Code requirements of $25,000.

– An ordinance for the city to compile and organize ordinances. They are expected to be available at the Briggs Lawrence County Public Library and on the city’s Web site.

– An ordinance amending the annual operating budget for sanitation, water and wastewater expenses.

– An ordinance to authorize Blankenship to prepare and submit an application to participate in the Community Facility Initiative Program and to execute contracts as required.

– An ordinance authorizing and directing Blankenship to execute a deed conveying property on Third Street to the Ironton Port Authority.

– An ordinance to authorize Blankenship to file and execute a safety grant application with the Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation.

Council passed two resolutions. One supporting an application to the Clean Ohio Council and the other repealed an ordinance that would have allowed the transfer of $40,000 from the general fund to the water fund.

A resolution that would have given oversight of day-to-day operation in the water administration department to the finance director failed for a lack of a motion. City attorney Bob Anderson questioned whether the resolution conflicted with the city charter that gives that responsibility to the mayor.

Council gave first reading to an ordinance related to stormwater management erosion and sediment control code. It also gave first reading to an ordinances authorizing Blankenship to award bids for the purchase of chemicals and construction materials for 2009.

Council gave second reading to an ordinance that would fine pet owners for not cleaning up after their pets. If passed, violators would be fined not less than $25 and not more than $100 if pet feces is not removed from public property or property that is not owned by the pet owner.