Recent fires put city in ‘predicament’
By Bert Lehman
The two buildings that were involved in recent fires in downtown Clintonville did not have insurance on them.
Clintonville City Administrator Chuck Kell relayed that information to the Clintonville City Council at the Dec. 13 council meeting.
“The buildings are basically sitting there with nothing happening to them,” Kell said.
He said the city’s building inspector tried to contact the owners to learn what their plans are for the buildings.
Kell said the owner of the building located at 49 S. Main St. has indicated he plans to clean the building up and reopen.
“But we haven’t seen any activity up to this point,” Kell said.
Access into the building at 46 S. Main St., the China King Restaurant, as well as the building next to it, the Bluebird Cafe, has been prohibited because of a wall that is leaning over and ready to fall on the Bluebird Cafe.
“Until somebody takes care of that situation, that restaurant can’t be reopened. It’s just too dangerous,” Kell said.
Kell said the owner of the fire damaged building said there are no funds or means to fix the situation. He also said the owner of the Bluebird Cafe is wondering when something will be done so she can reopen her business.
“Quite frankly they’re asking for city help,” Kell said. “The owner of the 46 South [property] also suggested that maybe the city needs to step in and take over responsibility for that building and get that wall taken down and get the sight cleaned up.”
Kell said if the city doesn’t get involved, he’s not sure anything will happen with the buildings.
“We can ask all we want and direct all we want, but if there are no financial means for the parties to take care of these [buildings], I’m not sure what’s going to happen to them,” Kell said.
After meeting with the owner of the China King Restaurant earlier in the day, Kell said the owner of the restaurant is considering taking over the property and remodeling the lower level. Kell added that she inquired about city assistance.
Kell also indicated contractors don’t want to take on the project of removing the wall in question because there is no insurance involved.
“So, we got kind of a predicament there,” Kell told the council.
He acknowledged that the city’s budget situation doesn’t allow it to just take over the properties.
Alderwoman Julie Stumbris questioned how property owners are allowed to not have insurance on their properties.
“It seems to be a trend,” Stumbris said.
Kell said business licensing was discussed by the Finance Committee while the city’s budget was being discussed. He suggested that discussion continue. This could include requiring proof of insurance to obtain a business license from the city.
Alderman Mark Doornink said that type of licensing would also help the Clintonville Fire Department with fire inspections.
Council President Mike Hankins asked Kell which city committee should look at the situation further. Kell said the Finance Committee since the issue will likely involve the city’s finances.