BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – Fort Madison city officials intend on keeping a portion of 8th Street blocked off for fear of further crumbling of a building downtown.
On Saturday a portion of a structural column on a building owned by Bryan Humphrey at 732 Avenue G, shifted causing the exterior brick to collapse and fall to the sidewalk on the east side of 8th Street between avenues G and H. Additional sagging and leaning can be seen from the west side of the property.
The debris was cleaned up over the weekend and Monday evening, but city officials aren’t convinced the damage is abated.
City Manager David Varley said Tuesday morning the city will keep the street closed for now.
“It would be irresponsible for us to open that street back up at this point,” he said.
He said a structural engineer did show up at City Hall on Friday per a deadline the city had put in place. He said the engineer indicated the damage in all likelihood was contained to the column that settled over the weekend.
A plan of action on the building is also expected at City Hall, but Varley stopped short of saying there was a deadline.
“We’re hoping to get that this week,” he said. “But there is no firm deadline.”
Last week, City Building Director Doug Krogmeier said the building would fall into the category of an “emergency abatement”, but he said the city was working with Humphrey’s attorney to get corrective action in place.
Mayor-elect Matt Mohrfeld, who campaigned on ramping up beautification efforts in the city, and has been spearheading efforts to get dilapidated property off city streets and run down properties cleaned up, said he city is keeping a close eye on the situation.
“I’m going to speak just observationally about this, but there was supposed to have been an engineer in that building to look at the safety and feasibility of the structure,” Mohrfeld said.
Humphrey also owns property at 609 9th Street where barricades are up in the alley between avenues F and G and 9th and 10th Streets. A blue tarp covers a hole in a wall on the second story that partially collapsed last year.
According to the Lee County Assessors website, taxes on the properties were current through March 2019.