BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – With Tuesday’s court deadline looming for downtown building owner Bryan Humphrey, city officials are mulling over the next step.
According to a court order issued by District 8B Judge Michael Schilling on Sept. 22, 2020 several deadlines for Humphrey to begin resolving structural issues on the building at 732 Avenue G, have passed.
The final deadline laid out in the order requires Humphrey to vacate the property no later than Dec. 15, if no action to shore up the building according to the specifics in the order, had been completed or agreed to with the city.
Fort Madison Mayor Matt Mohrfeld has said in previous statements that he intends to follow the letter of the court order.
City Building Director Doug Krogmeier said Monday, the city’s law firm, Lynch-Dallas, is reviewing the order to see what action to take next.
“I got an email from our attorney this morning and they are bouncing it off each other in their office to determine which way we want to go,” Krogmeier said.
He said options included filing for contempt of court which could result in Humphrey’s arrest, but that would have to go back in front of the court. Or the city could file for a Forced Entry and Detainer action, which could also lead to Humphrey being detained.
“I don’t know just yet but since the deadline is Dec. 15, I’m gonna guess we would know something by the end of the day tomorrow, and probably wait til Wednesday. But that’s something for the attorneys to decide.”
Mohrfeld said the issue is in front of Pat O’Connell of Lynch-Dallas, but he said Humphrey has not met any of the obligations or deadlines of the Sept. 22 order.
“Unfortunately, the chain of communication has not been kept open on his part, and it just doesn’t seem like there is any movement on stabilizing the building,” Mohrfeld said.
“At this point, as we notch down the letter of the court order. The next step is for Bryan to evacuate the building.”
Mohrfeld said the city can’t let the building deteriorate despite it being in private hands.
“It’s a tough thing for the city to be involved in an individual building, but its a collective downtown and it’s bigger than that,” he said. “In the end we have to do what’s best for downtown.”
Schilling gave Humphrey til Oct. 31, 2020 to obtain either the required construction permits to demolish the historic building at the corner of Avenue G and 8th Street in the heart of downtown Fort Madison, or make all necessary building repairs to bring the property into compliance with all city codes within 180 says of the order, which would be Feb. 22, 2021.
The order also required Humphrey, in the event he chooses to make the repairs, to inform the city of that intent by Oct. 9, 2020. The order also required him to shore up the west wall under the supervision of the city’s engineer, Michael Purol of Klingner & Associates, by Oct. 15.
None of those requirements of the order have been met, Mohrfeld said.