Burned buildings in Richardton remainRichardton does not have enough cash to clear out two charred buildings that were supposed to be torn down by the owner more than six months ago, City Commission President Frank Kirschenheiter said Thursday.
By: Dain Sullivan, The Dickinson Press
Richardton does not have enough cash to clear out two charred buildings that were supposed to be torn down by the owner more than six months ago, City Commission President Frank Kirschenheiter said Thursday.
“We prefer it would be clean (and) cleared out … but we’re not in a position to do it ourselves, financially,” Kirschenheiter said.
Kirschenheiter said it could cost the city as much as $100,000 to clear out the buildings. He also said there is no guarantee the buildings would be cleared right away, due to a lack of contractors who can book the job.
“It’s a pretty good-sized job,” Kirschenheiter said. “The industry right now is pretty busy.”
Ray Schmidt, of Center, is the owner of the former Elkhorn Bar and Hardware Hank buildings, which went up in flames more than a year ago on the main drag through town. Schmidt was informed by city officials that he was to have the buildings demolished by June 24, but he has yet to do so.
“It’s disappointing and disgusting that it’s still there,” Kirschenheiter said.
Residents and business-owners are also unhappy the boarded-up structure has remained untouched, Kirschenheiter said.
Skip Williams manages Cheers and Beers, a bar that operates down the street from the burnt buildings. He would like to see the unsightly space become the location for a new structure he has been hearing about.
“I’d like it tore down,” Williams said. “I’d like that strip mall put there instead of outside of town.”
Williams also said the building is a hazard for the community. He is afraid that kids might venture into the structures and fall through the foundation.
In June, Southwest District Health Unit Environmental Health Practitioner Rex Herring told The Press, “Anytime there is fire and buildings sit for a long time, we get worried about bricks falling, mosquitoes breeding and safety in general.”
On the day the two buildings were supposed to be cleared, City Commissioner Jacque Kitzan told The Press city officials would be “going through the proper legal channels” if the owner did not comply with the deadline.
Kirschenheiter hopes to keep legal action off the table in order to reach a “satisfactory conclusion” with Schmidt.
“We can move forward, legally, and do some things, but … we don’t want to,” Kirschenheiter said.
Kirschenheiter said he is hopeful the city can come to a smooth resolution with Schmidt, but residents should not expect to have new scenary any time soon.
“Hopefully, between the two of us, the city and (Schmidt), we can get it done and get the problem resolved and move forward,” Kirschenheiter said. “It might be something that’s going to take some time.”
Attempts to contact Schmidt on Saturday were unsuccessful.