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March 16, 2014

Georgetown Council to consider tabling historic building demolition

Council to hear report Monday

GEORGETOWN — A committee tasked with proposing ideas to save the structure will request the Georgetown Town Council again delay the demolition of the building that housed the town’s first bank.

The council is slated to hear the committee’s report and a structural analysis of the building, which is located at 9110 Ind. 64, when it convenes at 6:30 Monday.

The body agreed to table a vote on razing the Circa-1909 structure last month, though opinions varied on the future of the town-owned building.

Greg Sekula, southern regional director of the Indiana Landmarks, suggested Georgetown could sell or lease the property for a minimal rate to a developer who would in turn foot the costs to restore the building.

But some council members voiced concerns about potentially spending tax dollars to save the property. Councilman Mike Mills suggested the town raze the structure and turn the lot into a small park with green space for the community.

Mills and Council President Jerry Brock voted in favor of proceeding with the demolition vote last month, but the call to table the ballot was approved 3-2.

Brock and Councilwoman Kathy Haller were appointed to a committee that has met with preservation officials including Sekula.

Sekula said last week the committee will make some recommendations to the council tonight about the property, but referred further media inquiries to former Councilwoman Margaret Dean Hammersmith, who is also on the committee.

Hammersmith declined to specify what those recommendations will be, but said there’s wide community support to save the structure.

“Right now, we’re trying to get  the council to table it,” she said.

Public Works Director Jim Reynolds said the bids to demolish the structure — which range from about $16,000 to $21,000 — remain valid.

There were concerns about the structural integrity of the building, but Reynolds said after the committee and developers inspected the property, the problems appear to be more of the aesthetic nature.

“Basically it still goes back to the fact of is the building safe or unsafe, and I believe the committee has demonstrated that it’s not an unsafe building,” Reynolds said.

Regardless of what happens, council members said last month they don’t want the property to remain in its current condition indefinitely.

Attempts to reach council members Patti Denison, Jim Tripure and  Haller for comment were unsuccessful as of press time. Denison said last month she was undecided on the issue, but did vote to table the matter for another month.

Haller expressed her strong support for saving the structure.

“I’m just absolutely against demolishing it,” Haller said during the Feb. 18 meeting.

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