MOUNT VERNON — Mount Vernon Mayor Richard Mavis said getting the intersection of South Main and Gambier streets open again was his highest priority, but only when it can be done safely.
Videos, stories and photos pretaining to the fire of 201 South Main Street in Mount Vernon Ohio on October 25, 2010.
“Many of the downtown merchants have been asking when the streets are going to be open again,” Mavis said. “And I think we should be able to tell them something other than ‘I don’t know.’ So yesterday I spoke with the building owner and the (building owner’s) insurance company and the Ohio EPA.”
Mavis said the OEPA has to issue a demolition permit to ensure any and all hazardous materials that might be in the building are disposed of properly. The application for this permit generally has a 10-day waiting period while the OEPA considers the issuance of the permit.
“This 10-day waiting period was going to be a problem for us. I was told that if we could get an engineer to say that the building’s walls were in danger of imminent collapse we could have the 10-day period waived,” Mavis said. “So, I am hoping that sometime next week we will be able to let people have some vision of when to expect the streets and sidewalks will be open.”
Cameron Keaton, the city engineer, said he was on the roof of the Mount Vernon Nazarene University Buchwald Center and looked down into what was left of the old Kresge building.
“Structurally there is not much there,” Keaton said. “There are a few I-beams but all the internal parts between the I-beams are gone. Most of the I-beams are bent from the heat of the fire.”
In other news:
•Mavis reported the annual dike inspection was completed last week by Keaton and Knox County Engineer Jim Henry.
“They are still in very good condition,” Keaton said. “There are a few very small items to take care of. It really surprised me. I thought we would find a lot more groundhog holes and things like that.”
Keaton said there was some concern about damage done by ATV activity.
“The worst ATV activity is from Riverside Park up to the American National Can site,” Keaton said.
•The mayor said the city is expecting the Public Square fountain to be returned from its refurbishing in Alabama next week in time for Christmas decorating.
•The city will be opening bids on Nov. 19 for demolition of the old Hiawatha School.