Mayor says downtown building is unacceptable

BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
PCC EDITOR

FORT MADISON – The city of Fort Madison is keeping a close eye on progress of a building that is structurally deficient in the middle of downtown.

Activity has been seen at the building, which according to the Lee County Recorder’s information is owned by Bryan Humphrey and is located at the corner of 8th Street and Avenue G. City officials cordoned off 8th Street south of Avenue G to the alley and in front of the building more than three months ago.

At Tuesday’s regular city council meeting, councilman Mark Lair asked for an update on the progress of the building and the barricaded streets.

“I’ve been getting a lot of questions from the downtown area because of a certain building that’s in disrepair and taking a lot of parking spaces from retailers. Do we know where we’re at with that,” Lair asked.

Mohrfeld said he was in a staff meeting on Friday and told city staff this can’t go on.

“This cannot be the face of our community. We can’t be held hostage by one irresponsible property owner. It’s not right. We have to do everything we can.”

Mohrfeld said city Building Director Doug Krogmeier was working hard on the situation, but he said there is a mitigation plan in place and city officials only know of some of that progress.

“Is it moving as fast as we want, No. But we will know when the building is stabilized,” the mayor said.

Mohrfeld said work is happening on the building but city officials don’t know the timeline of the internal repairs to stabilize the building. He said it will be joint effort to expedite the mitigation.

“It’s just not acceptable that that’s what you see when you turn into our city,” Mohrfeld said.

“It’s one thing when it’s a misfortune, but it’s another when you start messing with other peoples’ livelihood.”

Lair said the people who have contacted him have retail businesses and have indicated they are missing out on up to nine parking spaces.

But Mohrfeld indicated the city will not pull the barricades until staff is confident the structure is safe.

“Be there no doubt, it is our responsibility to safeguard the public area,” he said.

“It’s tough situation…a tough situation.”

Krogmeier said in October that the barricades were in place in case the building did additional shifting which could, at a minimum, blow out windows and drop bricks.

Some crumbling occurred in November on the building’s west side, but that has since been cleaned up and shored up with wooden supports.

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