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Local

Dilapidated building a source of concern

Firefighters, WOW group displeased with closure of Liberty Street

The Fritz building at Main and Liberty streets in Walnut remains blocked off from the public, and Liberty Street remains closed, for fear the dilapidated building might collapse. The structure's status was a topic of discussion at Monday night's Walnut Village Board meeting.
The Fritz building at Main and Liberty streets in Walnut remains blocked off from the public, and Liberty Street remains closed, for fear the dilapidated building might collapse. The structure's status was a topic of discussion at Monday night's Walnut Village Board meeting.

WALNUT — Greeted by a meeting room full of concerned citizens, Walnut Village Board members listened Monday night to the concerns regarding the Fritz building in downtown Walnut.

As has been reported previously, this dilapidated building has caused the closure of Liberty Street at its intersection with Main Street because of safety concerns.

The chairman of the Walnut Fire Protection District Board of Trustees read a prepared statement regarding the impact this street closure has on response time for fire and EMS personnel to reach those in need.

This statement also included safety concerns for those driving the required equipment to answer emergency calls. The other streets available for use by emergency equipment are narrow and create a possible risk of accidents.

The statement also mentioned that the fire department is graded on its response time, and that can have an impact on the department’s rating.

The fire department expressed their concerns, and representatives are hopeful that plans for this building are moving forward and offered their support in rectifying this situation.

Many village residents present at the meeting were representing the WOW (Working on Walnut) Committee. The committee spokesperson also presented a written statement discussing their continued dismay over the ongoing Liberty Street closure.

This committee just wanted to also let the village board know that they are ready to help in any way possible to get a solution for this building.

Village President Dennis Grobe stated that at the previous board meeting in February, the board authorized an individual to study the building and enter the building to better ascertain the possible presence of asbestos and other hazardous material.

That study should be done in the next few weeks and will begin to give the board and village residents an idea of what they face with this building.

Prior to any discussion of demolition of the building, the village will need to have the building condemned, and the village would have to obtain ownership of the property.

If any part of the building is disturbed and it is determined that there is hazardous material within the building, then the entire building would be considered hazardous material.

Grobe further stated that the village engineers had contacted a demolition company who reviewed the structure and felt that the cost to demolish would be in the area of $300,000.

Grobe additionally reported that Jane Garman, representing Garman Consulting, plans to be in attendance at the April 3 board meeting. Garman is a grant writer who is looking into possible grants that might be available for application with regard to the Fritz building. Garman is researching this aspect of a solution for the building and will present information at that meeting.

The board’s Local Improvement Committee chairman, Ryan Rosenthal, will be scheduling a meeting with the WOW committee, representatives from the fire department and other interested citizens to try to come up with an action plan to try to move forward with this building.

In other business, the board approved a proposal by the owners of Pass It Along to place a storage container outside the building. There are no village codes preventing this placement and so the owners will be moving forward with their plan.

Scott Stoller, representing the Sauk Valley Community College Board of Trustees, introduced himself and stated that because of some fundraising efforts, the college has restarted its agriculture department. That department had been closed since 1982. Stoller is hopeful that, by the fall 2018 semester, there will be 50 students enrolled in that program.

Carl Minks, village superintendent, reminded that board that the Main Street creek bridge will be closed beginning May 1. This is the start of the construction to replace this bridge.

Board committees set dates and times for upcoming meetings. The Finance Committee will meet at 7 p.m. March 13 in the village meeting room. The Garbage Committee will meet at 6 p.m. March 20 in the same room.

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