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Case management set six years after last owner’s death

Momentum for revitalization efforts of distressed west side

Photo by Janelle Patterson A rotted tree impacting the integrity of the sidewalk in front of the 115-117 Gilman Ave., property in Marietta and the structural integrity of the foundation in the southeast corner of the home has been cut down. As of press time Monday, 18 days before the city’s blight lawsuit status conference in Washington County Common Pleas Court, logs and stumps from that tree were still strewn across the yard of the property.

Forty-three days after drug paraphernalia within neighboring toddlers’ reach was removed from the front stoop of the top priority blighted structure of the city of Marietta, by city labor, the city lawsuit against the property has a date for a case management conference in Washington County Common Pleas Court, though no trial date has yet been set.

Monday that status conference date appeared on the Washington County Clerk of Courts public records: March 19.

“As of today’s date, I received in the mail … a notice of court appearance which is the status conference setup,” said City Law Director Paul Bertram on Monday.

That conference is scheduled for 66 days after the day a syringe and needle, and a glass pipe were collected as the latest evidence against the blighted structures at 115 and 117 Gilman Ave., in Marietta’s lower west side.

To read about the history of the structures from early white settlers, see the Jan. 13 edition of The Marietta Times “Drug paraphernalia found at blighted structure; Officials grow concerned about fire risk from squatters.” Here

Since that last article, a rotted tree impacting the integrity of the sidewalk in front of the property and the structural integrity of the foundation in the southeast corner of the home has been cut down. As of press time Monday, 18 days before the status conference, logs and stumps from that tree were still strewn across the yard of the property.

The status conference date is set for 196 days after the case was filed by Bertram in September.

The notice, accessible via the Washington County Clerk of Courts records, names Donald Scott Rose, his estate, his sister Annette Etzwiler, Bertram and Washington County Prosecutor Nicole Coil in the notice.

No attorney is identified for Rose (the last owner of the properties), his estate or his living sister.

The conference date is set for 2,320 days (6.3 years) after the death of the owner Donald Scott Rose.

Background

Nuisance complaints against the properties date back several years within city record, with additional property tax delinquency on records of the county since 2011, while Rose was still alive.

In February of 2019, the properties were named No. 2, on the city’s top 10 priority list, following the No. 1 property 708 Eighth St., a Scot Edgerton property which was subsequently torn down by city dime in 2019 following the advocacy of neighbor Shane Colvin.

On Aug. 6, 2020, a separate blighted property jumped ahead in line and was demolished on city dime following a Community Development Block Grant request submitted by Susan Vessels during her candidacy for council president in 2019.

That structure, 615-619 Putnam St., was removed after its past living owner turned over the property to the city following threat of a blight lawsuit.

The sidewalk surrounding the open hole over Goose Run remained fenced off as of press time Monday.

“I was excited to see the momentum that was carried through from one project to the next and I don’t know how or why that would stop when you run into the Putnam Bridge and cross the river,” said Colvin, reflecting Monday. “I think for too long, so many years we’ve seen parts of the city get overlooked … I think that this is a great step in the right direction to show (the lower west side) is actually part of the town.”

Colvin was one of the Marietta residents of the city’s east side to submit a citizen-driven request for the city to tear down the 115-117 Gilman Ave., properties alongside lower west side residents and business owners who live in fear of the structures’ collapse upon local children and elderly.

His request was one of 39 submitted through the city’s CDBG process last summer.

What’s next

1. Bertram to file a motion for default judgment.

2. Bertram will work with Councilman Geoff Schenkel to complete affidavits of testimony from neighbors and the councilman Thursday and Friday.

Schenkel confirmed on conference call with Bertram and the Times on Monday that the two will prioritize this lawsuit this week to be ready for the filings.

3. Bertram to file an engineering report in support of the default judgment motion.

4. March 19: Case management status conference in Washington County Common Pleas Judge John Halliday’s chambers.

The judge would at this conference schedule a date for the hearing on default motion, or review potential leave to file if legal counsel/Etzwiler appears on behalf of the Rose estate.

5. Bertram to file affidavits during the court’s hearing on default judgment motion.

6. Live testimony from witnesses to be heard during a live hearing on default judgment motion.

7. Judgment entry by Halliday.

“Now that this structure has outlived its usefulness, we can devote more time to imagining what’s next for this neighborhood,” said Schenkel, noting hope after a conclusion of the case and abatement of the nuisance. “We can dream and design, rather than take on just another salvage reclamation project.”

Janelle Patterson may be reached at jpatterson@mariettatimes.com.

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