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March 7, 2013

Demo, cleanup planned for collapsed garage

The Logansport building commissioner and code enforcement officer are preparing for what they’re calling a delicate demolition and cleanup at an East Linden Avenue garage that partially washed into the Eel River in January.

Portions of the shared garage and much of its contents at 207 and 211 East Linden Ave. fell into the river January 30 because of what Logansport Code Enforcement Officer George Franklin said was a collapse in a 20-to-30-foot section of a concrete wall between the river and the properties.

Usually when conducting demolitions and cleanups, the city is required to issue a notice to property owners requesting their appearance at a Logansport Board of Public Works and Safety meeting. Bill Drinkwine, Logansport’s building commissioner, said this regulation could be set aside because of the urgency of the situation.

“This should be treated as an emergency action on the city’s part,” Drinkwine said. “We can waive the timeline for notification because of the urgency of doing this.”

Drinkwine and Franklin said the they plan on presenting a request for the emergency action at the March 13 Logansport Board of Public Works and Safety meeting.

The property at 207 East Linden Ave. is owned by Jeff Murray and the one at 211 is owned by Russell Alder. Franklin said Alder was able to retrieve his possessions from the river while Murray’s belongings remain.

City officials continue to have trouble getting in contact with Jeff Murray.

Franklin said B&G Construction is currently preparing an estimate for the demolition and cleanup that will include the removal of Murray’s items from the river.

“It’s going to be quite a task to get that stuff out of the river and I’m sure it’s going to be rather costly for us,” Franklin said.

Franklin said the unstable ground and rising river level are going to make the demolition a difficult one.

“This will be a very delicate demolition,” Franklin said. “There is concern that with the weight of the equipment in the backyard and as small as the backyard is that those yards might wash into the river with the vibration of the equipment.”

Drinkwine said another problem they might run into is causing damage to the concrete driveway separating the two properties because of all the moisture in the ground and the equipment that will be used there. In light of this, Drinkwine said the city would be required to issue a letter to both property owners waiving responsibility for any damage to the existing properties.

Unanswered questions as to what the city will be liable for remain. Drinkwine said he had concerns regarding how the city should address the collapsed river wall, adding that he did not yet know if it would have to be stabilized before cleanup, after or even at all. He said he plans on checking with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to see what the city should do.

Calls for comment in this article left at Army Corps of Engineers offices in Peru, Bunker Hill and Largo were not returned.

Mitchell Kirk is a staff reporter at the Pharos-Tribune. He can be reached at 574-732-5130 or mitchell.kirk@pharostribune.com.

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