Today’s the deadline to destroy fire-gutted Richardton buildingsRICHARDTON — As residents chatted over a cup of coffee or a game of cards at a local cafe Thursday, the talk was that it is time to tear down and clean up two buildings that were severely damaged by fire more than six months ago.
By: Klark Byrd, The Dickinson Press
RICHARDTON — As residents chatted over a cup of coffee or a game of cards at a local cafe Thursday, the talk was that it is time to tear down and clean up two buildings that were severely damaged by fire more than six months ago.
City officials said today is the deadline for the property owner to demolish the two broken buildings.
City building inspector Duane Rakness said the owner of the buildings, Ray Schmidt, was informed by certified letter sent to Center that today is the last day to notify the city of plans to demolish the structures before the city will begin legal proceedings.
The former Elkhorn Bar and Hardware Hank buildings on the main drag through town went up in flames on Dec. 22. The structures sat without roofs and filled with debris Thursday afternoon.
“We want to get rid of the eyesore,” Rakness said.
City Commissioner Jacque Kitzan said she was skeptical anything would be done, adding that the only improvement, boarding up windows and doors, was completed in the last two weeks.
“It is not happening,” she said with a disbelieving chuckle. “I would be totally surprised.”
Kitzan added that the structures are dangerous if not demolished or improved.
Southwest District Health Unit Environmental Health Practitioner Rex Herring said “any time there is fire and buildings sit for a long time, we get worried about bricks falling, mosquitoes breeding and safety in general.”
Herring said his department gave the city a recommendation to demolish the buildings because of the hazards. He said he was in contact with Schmidt within 30 days of the recommendation and that Schmidt planned to clean out the area and rebuild.
Rakness said the city has not had much contact with Schmidt, but he was made aware of the recommendation and ordered demolition.
Kitzan said the city officials will begin “going through the proper legal channels” if the owner does not comply with the deadline.
Herring said if the owner does not follow up, the city may demolish the structures and bill the owner for expenses.
Kitzan said that is not a cost the city should have to deal with.
“If the city has to pay one penny, that is too much,” she said, adding that the owner should take responsibility for the property.
Multiple attempts to contact Schmidt were unsuccessful