More events added to community calendar and condemnation proceedings on two properties

More activities were added to the Augusta community calendar last night with the City Council approving five more events.
• Kristie Thackery, Ewalt Elementary principal, appeared to request permission to hold a Run for Recess 5K/10K on Oct. 17 for a fundraiser for Project Jai Play.  The school is pushing hard to meet deadlines and qualifications for matching funds in order to have the soft surface installed on the school’s playground.
• Judd Thornburn, representing Bicycles at the Ballfield, requested permission to host a Vintage/Antique/Custom Bicycle Show and Swap Meet from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Oct. 24 in Garvin Park at the stage area.    This will be the second year for the event and funds raised will go to the Augusta High School Band trip to Washington, D.C., in the spring.  They will also be collecting non-perishable canned goods for the Augusta Community Caring Center.
• Bill Morris with Downtown Augusta, Inc. appeared before the council to request use of the 500 block of State Street for the popular Red Brick Harvest on Oct. 31.  The event will include the chili cook-off, Trick or Treat Street for kids, a pumpkin decorating contest and a pumpkin pie eating contest.  The activities would be held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
• A new event that was approved is a disc golf tournament in Garvin Park from 7 to 11 p.m. on Sept. 26.  Representatives from Ducks Flying Discs will host the glow-in-the-dark event using lights on the discs and baskets. There will be lights set up on any obstacles that may provide safety hazards to the players.  About 22 participants are expected.
City Manager Josh Shaw advised the Big Ring Hondo Gravel Grinder event that will be starting and ending at Garvin Park that same day is expected to be finished by the time the Disc Golf Tourney begins.
• The last event to be approved is the Boy Scout Heritage Day on Oct. 3  at the Augusta Historical Museum. Mike Timberlake explained to Council the event is for people interested in Scouting and those who are currently, or have been in Scouts to come by and enjoy a free hot dog and tour the local museum.
“Our local Scouts have put up a display at the museum.  We’ll be setting up a tent, grilling hot dogs and encourage people to see Augusta’s history, along with the Boy Scouts’ history,”  Timberlake added. “We’re expecting around 100 people.”
Timberlake asked that a portion of the street near the museum be blocked off for safety reasons. The city council approved the request with the stipulation that city staff work out the logistics on placement of barricades.
Two public hearings for condemnation of properties located in the city were held and council approved resolutions authorizing condemnation on both.
The first hearing and discussion was on property at 418 E. 15th St., where the structure was severly damaged in a fire on Jan. 29, 2015.  The house was uninsured.  
Assistant City Manager Cody Sims explained the property owner, Pamela Smith, contacted the Inspection Department and obtained a demolition permit. After one month passed, no action was taken and when city staff contacted Smith, she indicated she no longer intended to demolish the property and wished to rebuild, however, she did not have the money to repair the structure. The building inspector agreed to allow her to repair the structure when funding became available if exterior debris was removed and the yard was maintained. Since that time, no further action was taken to rebuild and the structure has continued to degrade and become an eyesore.
“Windows have been boarded up, but not properly.  There are lots of gaps and with the excessive rain we have received, water has gotten inside,” Sims advised.
Professional Engineering Consultants, PA conducted an impartial structural assessment of the property and confirmed extensive water damage was likely on the interior of the house due to the visible hole in the roof and  inadequately boarded openings at each window.  
The report stated, “As a result of the fire and the continual dilapidation of the structure since, the property is unfit for human use and habitation in its current condition.”
Smith was present at last night’s meeting and attempted to persuade council members she should be given more time in order for her to find money to make repairs.  
“It’s worth saving. Some rear rafters in back and some supporting walls were damaged, but the rest is good.  I would like the opportunity to repair it.  There’s probably lots of property in Augusta that isn’t fit to live in,” she said.
When asked what type of time frame she needed her response indicated she need two months to properly board up the structure, but not prepare for habitation.
City Attorney Austin Parker explained the city is bound by state statue concerning these situations.
“The city has time lines when it comes to compliance and it’s not intended to shore up the property, but to bring it up to code,” he said.
Councilor Tom Leffler added, “The safety concern is our job.  It’s an eyesore.”
“We want the building habitable, not boarded up,” said Councilman Cale Magruder.
“It’s been eight months since anything has be done.  You are delinquent on the property  taxes and you didn’t pay insurance and we’re supposed to give you 60 days?” asked Councilor Justin Londigan.
“It’s past time for boarding up,” added Mayor Matt Childers.
Council approved (8-0) the resolution authorizing condemnation.
The other property, also the site of a structure fire, at 118 E. Main, received authorization for condemnation.
Property owner Robert Gass informed the council he planned to demolish the existing structure.  
Councilor Ron Reavis advised he appreciated Gass’s intentions and the council approved the resolution 8-0.
More on Monday’s council meeting will be in Thursday’s edition.