Tri States Public Radio Staff
Waiting on Legal System
Wed August 15, 2012
Hamilton Waiting to Clean-Up
Hamilton must continue to play the “waiting game” when it comes to cleaning up what remains of two buildings in the middle of the 900-block of Broadway.
The structures were destroyed by a fire last January. The deadly blaze also took the life of a young child.
Police Chief Robb Bell says Hamilton is trying to take ownership of one of the buildings from an owner who lives in Oklahoma.
He says Veldon Gray has not responded after being served papers by the city.
“We are in the second phase of it, now, where the city attorney is drawing up papers so we can start the clean-up process and take possession of it,” says Bell.
Bell says Betty Gray, who holds a lien against the property, has also been served.
Bell says she is due in court in a couple of weeks, but has stopped talking to Hamilton authorities.
Bell says the owner of the other building, Steve Froman, has started some clean-up, but cannot proceed because of safety and liability concerns connected to Gray’s building.
The city plans to bring in engineers to assess the site and determine how to clean-up the debris without damaging neighboring buildings.
The neighbors have approached the city several times about safety and health concerns related to the giant pile of debris.
An effort to build a walking bridge in Hamilton remains stalled after nearly a decade.
Supporters wanted to rebuild an old covered bridge that burned more than 40 years ago, but the plans changed to the proposed walking bridge due to the potential price tag.
Construction has not started, though, for a multitude of reasons: permits, flooding and now property ownership.
Mayor Steve Woodruff says Hamilton owns just part of the land along Highway 136 where the bridge would sit. He says the rest of the property could be owned by a nearby business or even by a utility company.
Woodruff says Hamilton’s city attorney is looking into the ownership question.
Supporters say they are ready to build once the ownership issue is resolved.
Woodruff says Hamilton’s budget is holding up, even with the state being $90,000 behind in its tax reimbursements to the city.
That represents about five months of payments.
Woodruff says the city saw this coming, several years ago, so it sat aside money in its budget in anticipation of the difficult times.
He says that has allowed Hamilton to avoid borrowing money to pay its bills.