City says Humphrey building owner is cooperating

BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
PCC EDITOR

FORT MADISON – City officials increased a cordoned off area on 8th Street earlier this week for fear of partial crumbling of a structure on the corner of 8th and Avenue G.

The building, owned by attorney Bryan Humphrey, is dilapidated on the west side and is showing visible signs of deterioration and sagging.

The city had cordoned off just the parking spaces on the 8th Street side of the building for last few months. But on Tuesday they expanded that safety zone to include the entire street next to the building and north of the alley.

City officials have expanded a street closure on 8th Street after additional settling of the building was observed this week. Toward the right in the photo, settling can be seen between the final three-story column prompting the closure. Photo by Chuck Vandenberg/PCC

City Building Director Doug Krogmeier said Humphrey has been cooperating through his attorney and has an engineer hired to look into the structure.

Krogmeier said the city had given Humphrey an Oct. 21 deadline to submit plans to remediate the deficiencies in the structure. Krogmeier said the city didn’t receive those plans, but has since heard from an engineer who has indicated he will be on site Friday.

“We’ve been in communication with his attorney and I’ve talked with the engineer and they are on board,” he said.

Krogmeier said he could see the wall on the west side continuing to shift and from the outside it’s clearly in trouble. But he didn’t think the entire structure would come down.

“I don’t believe that it will come down or even half that building, but at some point what’s right there is going to fall out and we don’t know how many stories it goes,” he said.

“It still looks to me like it would be contained within the columns, but you just don’t know how bad it is. So we erring on the side of caution.”

After the inspection that Krogmeier hopes happens with the engineer on Friday, he said the city would be expecting a report within a week and then conversations could be held to determine timeframes to get this situation resolved.

He said the city would then give direction as to corrective actions, but it will be up to Humphrey to make sure the work gets done.

If the city were not to receive reports and dialogue between the two were to stop, he said the city could, as a last result, file for an emergency abatement and contract the work themselves. The city would then have to put a lien on the property in hopes of recouping the expense of the repairs.

But he said right now communication has been good and that would be the city’s last option after additional deadlines are in place.

“He’s cooperating so far and has an engineer. So hopefully he makes the repairs and it all the works out,” Krogmeier said.

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