Rubble remains 2 years after demolition started on downtown building in Albion

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 26 March 2015 at 12:00 am

Neighbor asks village to clean up site

Photos by Tom Rivers – A sandstone building from 1840, one of the oldest in downtown Albion, has been reduced largely to rubble. However, the site hasn’t been cleaned up after demolition started two years ago.

ALBION – Mary Anne Braunbach said two years is long enough for the village to move on cleaning up the rubble and remains of a sandstone building originally constructed in 1840.

Braunbach owns a building near the ruin at the corner of Beaver Alley and Liberty Street. She said the “pile of rocks” drags down the appearance of the entire downtown historic district, which is included on the National Register of Historic Places.

“Two years of patience is more than any taxpayer should have to bear,” Braunbach told the Village Board on Wednesday evening.

Dan Dunn of Ridgeway started removing the building in April 2013, but work was stopped because Dunn didn’t secure an asbestos removal permit from the state Department of Labor.

Dunn contested he needs a certified asbestos removal company for the work. Dunn, owner of salvage company, believes he could handle the job.

The DOL’s Asbestos Control unit tagged the building as a “suspended action.”

The building, once used to manufacture carriages more than a century ago, was deemed a “dangerous building” when it was standing and the village wanted it to come down. Dunn needed a permit from the DOL before removing the 5,000-square-foot building that was last used as a furniture warehouse about a half century ago.

Dunn took down some of the structure and removed some of the stone. But some of the rubble and his equipment remain on site.

Village Attorney John Gavenda said the village has taken Dunn to court to have him clean up the site, but the rubble remains.

Village officials say it would cost abut $16,000 to pay a contractor to remove the remaining debris. Braunbach urged the village to hire a contractor to get the job done, and try to recoup the costs from Dunn or by selling the land.

“It comes down to the village’s budget. Do we have the money?” Gavenda asked the board.

Village trustees are working on the 2015-16 budget, which must be approved by May 1.

“My personal opinion is that is a mess and we should clean it up,” Trustee Gary Katsanis said.

Here is how the building looked about two years ago before demolition started.

Trustee Eileen Banker didn’t want to see the village expend public resources cleaning up sites and buildings that are abandoned. She said there are 47 vacant houses in Albion and she worries the village could be stuck with some of them.

David Snell, a local real estate broker, said neighborhoods and the community suffer from buildings and sites left to rot.

“We’re suffering,” Snell said. “These homes are a cancer on our village.”

The Village Board said it would know more on May 1, after its new budget is in place to see if it has money to address the clean up of the Dunn building and address any of the housing issues.

Braunbach said putting off the cleanup another year isn’t an option. She wants the village to address it soon – or she may take legal action.

“We may include it in the budget,” Banker said. “We’ll do our best.”