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City Aids Building Removal Project

By Staff | Nov 18, 2010

Emmetsburg City Council made a commitment of financial support to assist in the removal of the former Wards building from downtown Emmetsburg. Action was taken at the Nov. 8 meeting.

Deb Hite, Executive Director of Emmetsburg Chamber of Commerce, addressed the council.

“The Emmetsburg Retail Association would like to see the Wards building come down with something else going into that spot,” she said. “At the Aug. 25 meeting we talked about the project, the empty storefronts and the danger of the front (of the Wards building) falling down. We met with the Storm Committee and asked that the money, $10,000, be designated for this project. We are asking you to give us the money for phase one – asbestos assessment, to see how much it will actually cost to get that building down.”

She noted that the Storm Committee voted unanimously to allow Emmetsburg Retail Association to use the $10,000 the City Council had designated for a community project.

“We are also asking that the city certify $60,000 of tif funds that could also be used for the project, to partner with us to take the building down,” Hite said.

She added, “The first $10,000 will be refunded to us by the DNR and that money would be used as matching funds for a grant from PACGDC for a total of $40,000.”

Hite also added, “There is the possibility of $25,000 from the DNR, depending on how expensive the project will be.

The Chamber/Retail Association is working with Mel Pins and the DNR for a Brownfield grant to rid the city of the hazardous building.

“Phase one is going to answer the questions that we have,” said Dan McCain, Chamber President. “The only absolute is that we know the building is deteriorating and is a liability. Through phase one we’ll know how much contamination and how much it will cost to deal with it and to remove it properly.”

A similar project is currently underway with the dentist’s building, also on Broadway. Community Developer Steve Heldt said the first step includes an asbestos report which helps determine the cost of tearing down the building.

The Chamber hopes to have financial input from C.J. Furman, owner of the property. Adjoining property owners to the former Wards building have their own concerns.

City Administrator John Bird addressed the concern of certifying $60,000 in tif money in one year. He also noted that tif debt for fiscal 2012 has to be certified by December. Bird suggested the Chamber borrow the money, using the city’s ability to collect tif revenue as collateral.

“We have not addressed that,” said McCain. “There are so many unknowns at this point… The bottom line on the building, liabilities are looming and the condition of the building today is as good as it’s going to be. Tomorrow it will be in worse shape than today.”

Council representatives voted unanimously to redirect the $10,000 from the Storm to Emmetsburg Chamber for demolition of the old Wards building. They also voted to commit up to $60,000 in support of demolition of the building, with funding sources to be determined.