MOUNT VERNON — The Mount Vernon Dilapidated Buildings Commission took up a number of building issues at its June meeting, including Round Hill Mansion, also known as the Curtis Mansion. This stately and historic building has become a concern with many people because of its seemingly deteriorating condition.
“I did have a conversation with Mrs. Erwin [wife of owner Dr. Weber J. Erwin] last month,” said Larry Fogle, Mount Vernon code enforcement officer. “I expect to hear from her again this week. What we are trying to do is set up a date when she and Dr. Erwin can be here. They have indicated to me that they have a multi-year restoration plan. This year they plan to do some roofing and window replacement. But we do need to get together with them. Our major concern is to get the roof replaced and windows put in so it doesn’t deteriorate any more than it has.”
Larry Gruber and his wife, Margo, addressed the commissioners about two properties in their neighborhood.
“We live at 512 E. Gambier St., and we’re right next door to the house that caught fire last January,” Larry told the commission. “We’re here to find out just what is happening to that house. And down to the east, I think it’s 516 [E. Gambier]. It has plywood on the windows and the city had to come out about a week ago and mow the grass. That’s another concern of ours.”
“I have good news about the house next door to you [512 E. Gambier St.],” said Dave Glass, Mount Vernon’s safety-service director. “That one is going to get torn down in the next month.”
Regarding 516 E. Gambier St., Fogle said he talked to the owner in the last week.
“He’s been out of town for a few weeks and that’s why the grass was tall,” said Fogle. “We had contacted him about a month ago about the boarded up windows. He indicated he would have those windows replaced this week and promised to keep the grass mowed from now on.”
The commission discussed the building at 401 N. Sandusky St. for purposes of condemnation. Fogle said the building had windows either broken or entirely missing, and doors needed replacement on the south side of the building. Fogle also had concerns with exterior cracks, which he said might be stress cracks or simply superficial cracks. The commission voted to condemn the property.
“I just wanted to come here and explain my intentions with the building,” said Kevin Seng, who owns the building with his brother, Bryan. “I had planned to replace the eight windows that are broken. If it’s a safety issue, I can just put new panes of glass in. But what I want to do is replace them with nice vinyl windows. That’s what’s on the front of the building, and that seems to work. So what I wanted to do is replace one window a month as the money came in. But if there is a safety issue, I guess I could get a loan and do it quicker. When I bought the building, I didn’t realize that it was a safety issue. I can speed it up if that would help.”
Glass suggested if Seng couldn’t replace all the windows at once he could do something like install Plexiglas until full replacement of the windows could be done. He did reiterate that the commission’s main concern was to get the building secured and sealed to prevent further deterioration.”
In other business:
•Glass told the commission a garage at 624 N. Sandusky St. had been demolished and a house, garage and cottage at 401 Wooster Road were to be demolished shortly.
•The commission referred two properties to the city law director — 203 N. Division St. and 3 Maplewood Ave. The main reason for taking this action is that neither property owner signed for certified mail sent by the commission informing the owners of condemnation action taken by the commission. Fogle explained that by sending the cases to the law director for action, Mount Vernon police officers could be used to hand deliver the notices.
“Otherwise they don’t know that their property has been condemned,” Fogle said.
•Glass reported that two properties previously referred to the law director, 100 N. Main St. and 4 South St. had shown little or no progress; the commission will continue to monitor them.
•The commission will continue to monitor several other properties, most of which had minor issues. One, 303 N. Jefferson St., was taken off the commission’s list because the needed work was done.
•Glass and Fogle said they have been keeping tabs on 301 N. Mulberry St., the former middle school. The owner had gotten state permits and inspections, and for this reason the commission considered it to be a construction site and not under the jurisdiction of the city. Glass and Fogle said they were watching in case anything happened, such as a stoppage of construction work, that would again put it under the commission’s jurisdiction. They said that after the replacement of the roof over a section of the building, there was no apparent new work going on, and they would continue to monitor the situation.