OSWEGO, NY – Director of Code Enforcement Neal Smith said the city should tear down a west side building – before it falls down on its own.
Smith said he inspected 133 W. Fifth St. recently with a gentleman who’s interested in purchasing it.
It had been a while since anyone had been there, he added.
“He and I were both surprised to see that the inside had been severely vandalized by parties unknown looking for some marble mantles,” Smith said. “In the process, they destroyed the chimney and left a gapping hole in the third floor all the way down to the basement.”
This building has been at risk for quite a while, even more so now, he pointed out.
It is a complex situation, the purchasers don’t speak English very well, he said.
“It’s been over a year since we’ve been working with them,” he said. “I believe at this point it is necessary that the council intervene and earmark fund to remove it.”
At Monday’s Administrative Services Committee meeting, aldermen approved sending the matter to the full Common Council to have demolition get under way next week.
“I have spoken with the property owners and they are supportive of this,” Smith informed the committee. “I don’t want to speak for them. But, I think they understand the financial repercussions of this action and will support whatever the city decides to do.”
Falling bricks from the building pose a danger to pedestrians or vehicles, Smith noted.
“We’ve got to get on this before someone gets injured,” agreed Councilor Shawn Walker (Fourth Ward).
Smith said he plans on checking the condition of other buildings in the near future.
“There was a group that was going to purchase the St. Louis Church; and as recently as the Thursday before Harborfest, they went through it and nobody foresaw the collapse of that building. So it is easy to say after the fact, Monday morning quarterbacking, that we should have done something. But unless we have some incident or some proof that something’s going to happen, it’s not up to us to go and inspect every building that’s sold in the city. It’s up to the people that are going to purchase the building,” Mayor Randy Bateman said. “It’s up to them to make sure it’s in the right condition before they purchase it.”
The committee also discussed putting the demolition costs on the tax bill of the property owner, and since this is an “emergency” situation seek a waiver of having the dilapidated structure checked for asbestos before it is razed.