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Blighted property on Putnam Street torn down

Mayor: Property work expected to be finished next week

Demolition began Thursday of the city’s top listed blighted property: 615-619 Putnam St., as outlined by Marietta City Council in 2019. The completion of demolition is anticipated by the middle of next week, moving 115-117 Gilman Ave., to the top spot according to Marietta Safety-Service Director Steve Wetz. (Photo by Janelle Patterson)

Demolition day in Marietta Thursday focused on yet another of Marietta City Council’s top 10 blighted properties identified in February 2019.

“That list needs to be updated this year,” said City Law Director Paul Bertram Thursday.

Last fall, 708 Eighth St., sitting at the top of the list, was brought down by use of the city’s general fund slum and blight line item after a successful lawsuit declaring the property a public nuisance threatening the public peace, health and safety of citizens of Marietta.

Then in December, though not identified on that top 10 list, the trailer at Lot 2 of the Gilman Avenue trailer park was demolished on city dime by Ken Strahler Masonry.

“The city paid for that because I didn’t own the trailer, the trailer was signed over to the city and then the city paid to have it torn down,” Bertram explained, noting that the land upon which the trailers in that park sit is jointly owned by Bertram-Ernst Properties, The Bertram Trust and the Bertram Business Realty Trust.

That demolition occurred as a health emergency to remove the further risk of the trailer contributing to feces running into the city-owned Gilman Avenue.

The two properties provided two out of three templates the city has for blight removal with city/federally funds, while the fourth option rests solely upon private investment to rehabilitate or demolish properties.

The third city option, Safety-Service Director Steve Wetz was made aware of Thursday following the fates of three fire-risk properties in 2018 which saw quick demolition after declared by the fire department to be an imminent danger.

Thursday, now sitting at the top of the blight list, 615-619 Putnam St. followed the template set by the Gilman Avenue trailer.

“Usually when a person is threatened with a lawsuit for a public nuisance they work to either fix the property or they turn it over to be torn down,” Bertram explained, noting that the 615-619 Putnam property was turned over to the city this year after such a notice was given to its former owner. While the owner agreed to pay the remaining 2019 property tax on the condemned brick structure, the city was able to declare this summer the imminent threat the structure and its concrete platform base pose to the underlying route of Goose Run and a city sewer main.

Thursday, 615-619 Putnam St. was demolished by Larry Lang Excavating, beginning work on the $31,740 project.

Mayor Josh Schlicher said during city council Thursday evening that the property work is expected to be finished by the middle of next week with debris and the concrete slab remaining today removed.

Wayne Rinehart, code enforcement official for the city, said the contract does not specify new guardrail work, but did include protections through the Ohio EPA for Goose Run.

“That liner is there to catch whatever may fall,” he pointed out, noting the black plastic sheeting draped beneath the concrete platform. “Then those concrete columns will be taken down until they’re just a few feet above Goose Run. There will still be some of them left so as not to disturb the creek bed.”

The bill for the demolition will be partially reimbursed with 2020 Community Development Block Grant funds, if the city is ever able to submit that budget to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Safety-Service Director Steve Wetz said with the completion of the 615-619 Putnam property, the newest priority and main focus for city blight work will be on 115-117 Gilman Ave.

“That moves now to the top of the list,” said Wetz. “I want to get that torn down, the residents have made it clear that’s such a major concern.”

Bertram confirmed Thursday that he will have a joint lawsuit filed with the city and the county prosecutor will be co-plaintiffs a week from today.

“It will be against the decedent and his heirs and against the parcel — you’re suing the land itself because the taxes haven’t been paid,” said Bertram.

If all goes according to schedule with the planned lawsuit, the goal, Bertram said, is to have the Gilman Avenue property put for sale on the courthouse steps in November.

Bertram further noted the statuses of the 2019 top 10 blighted properties:

-708 Eighth St. (Third Ward) demolished in 2019.

-115-117 Gilman Ave. (Fourth Ward) to be filed against next week.

-304 Market St. (Fourth Ward) city bought in the spring and is going out for bids for demolition.

-111 Vine St. (First Ward) status unclear.

-228 Sixth St., also known as 611 Wayne St. per previous mailing address. (First Ward) to be brought back for discussion this fall.

-306 Holly St. (First Ward) was privately purchased in 2019. “And owner is either going to tear it down or rehabilitate according to his attorney Cameron Fouss,” said Bertram.

-765 Buckeye Ave. (First Ward) “That is still to be discussed,” said Bertram. “That may be on an auditor sale this fall.”

-615-619 Putnam St. (Second Ward) demolished Thursday.

-162 Front St. (Second Ward) “That is the wine shop, it was supposed to be purchased privately but that fell through,” said Bertram. “That’s going to be coming back for discussion as well with Wayne, Geoff (Schenkel, council chairperson for Planning, Zoning, Annexation and Housing Committee) and I.”

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