Three months after part of an outside wall collapsed at Easy Street Bar in New London, the city of New London and the owner of the building have agreed on a plan to make repairs.
The initial wall collapse occurred the first week of July.
Shortly after that incident, the sidewalk around the building was roped off.
“When that happened, of course we weren’t sure of the structural issues, if any,” said Paul Hanlon, building inspector for the city of New London. “We immediately went out and secured the building, so we’re protecting the public.”
Hanlon said the building, which city records show was built around 1925, was deemed “not habitable” so Michael Rice, owner of the building, was not allowed to operate the business.
The city hired a structural engineer to inspect the building to determine its condition.
“In the meantime the city also moved forward and issued a Raze or Repair Order to the building,” Hanlon said. “It’s kind of commonplace to say, ‘Here’s what we need to do. You either fix it or take it down.’”
During this time, Rice hired his own structural engineer.
On Aug. 12, Brander Construction Technology performed a requested inspection of the property at 515 and 519 W. North Water Street.
Later in the month, New London City Attorney Earl Luaders made a request to Rice’s attorney to schedule a second inspection by Brander Construction Technologies regarding the common wall between 515 and 519 W. North Water Street. Rice’s attorney denied that request.
A September court hearing was cancelled. More of the same wall collapsed in late September.
A court hearing scheduled for Oct. 11 was cancelled after Rice signed a stipulation from the city. The stipulation included:
• Rice will remediate the building at 519 W. North Water Street according to guidelines provided by DDK Engineering in a July 15 letter, an Oct. 3 letter and a schematic drawing.
• Remediation must be completed by Dec. 7, 2013.
• Inspections will be conducted by Patrick McCormick of Brander Construction Technology.
• A licensed electrical contractor will re-install the electrical panel and evaluate all the wiring attached to it to verify that no additional damage has been done to the wiring due to the collapse of the north wall.
• Rice will not re-open the business until the remediation work has been completed and approved by McCormick.
• If remediation work is not completed by Dec. 7, the city is entitled to apply to the circuit court for a Raze Order without the need for an evidentiary hearing.
• The deadline for completion may be extended for good cause by mutual agreement between the city and Rice.
“All we’re doing is protecting public safety,” Hanlon said. “… The building will remain closed until all the work is completed.”
The stipulation agreement concerns only the north wall collapse. It does not require Rice to make repairs to the second floor in order to re-open the business.
Fire Inspector Mark Wilfuer, of the New London Fire Department, hand delivered a letter to Rice on March 16, informing Rice that he could not utilized the area on the second floor at his property because it was in violation of the fire code.
Rice used the second floor anyway on March 16. The New London Police Department cited him $500 for maintaining a public nuisance.
“The second floor is still out of bounds until that gets the proper engineering and whatever it needs,” Hanlon said.
Residents will now notice that the sidewalk by the building is once again open for use.
“They’ve shored up the first floor. It’s not even close to as bad as it looks,” Hanlon said. “It could be horrible if there was something else structurally wrong.”
Hanlon said it would be a benefit to the city if Rice makes the proper repairs to the property.
“It’s not in our interest to tear it down because it would take something off the tax roll,” Hanlon said.