Pulaski Town Council is seeking to take legal action to get condemned buildings removed from Main Street and Randolph Avenue.
Council voted unanimously earlier this week to pursue every legal avenue available to get property owners to fully demolish and the buildings and clear the lots.
One of the buildings, across from Pulaski County Courthouse, fell during heavy rains in March and has been blocked off with plywood since that time. Mayor Jeff Worrell said he was disappointed the town’s July 4 veteran’s event on the courthouse lawn was across from the site.
According to Town Manager John Hawley, town staff has been unsuccessful in getting the owners to have the buildings removed. Due to concerns by the town’s engineering department, he said the staff needs some direction on how to proceed.
While town employees can handle removal of the Randolph building if necessary, the Main Street building is a different situation, Hawley said. Floor beams from the collapsed building extend into buildings on both sides, so it will take special skills – and someone with good insurance coverage – to make sure those buildings are protected during the removal.
“That collapse is not a neat little pile of trash we can move out,” Hawley said. “We’re really looking for the owners to remove (both buildings), but apparently there’s not going to be any cooperation on behalf of the owners, identified as Richard Allen of Reno, Nev. and Donald Boysaw of Pulaski.
Hawley said he believes the town will be successful in getting a court order to remove the buildings, but the cost of removing the Main Street building (about $30,000) will be more than the property’s value.
Town Attorney David Warburton suggested the town also pursue reimbursement of about $6,000 in expenses thus far on that building.
Councilman Morgan Welker questioned whether the town would gain anything by paying legal fees to pursue court action against the owners. He made a motion that the town make an offer to Allen to give the property to the town and let the town foot the bill for having it cleared in exchange for Allen paying the expenses incurred so far .
“We can continue to sit on it and let it get worse, or we can cut our losses and move on,” Welker said.
Worrell and Councilman Robert Bopp said that would give the owners of other condemned properties no incentive to clear their dilapidated structures.
Welker’s motion failed for lack of a second.
Vice Mayor David Clark said he thinks it is a good thing to save town taxpayers’ money when possible. However, he receives comments from citizens about the town acquiring properties through demolishing buildings and placing liens on them, he said.
“We’re giving the property owners an out,” he said. “I don’t know what we have to do to get them to do something, but that is my concern. We have to hold people accountable.
“It’s kind of a Catch-22, but I think we have to pursue every legal avenue we have,” he said.
Councilman Joseph Goodman agreed. He noted that once the town sets a standard of holding property owners responsible, “we’ll send a message we expect people to take care of their properties.”