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Mount Vernon City Council deems building unsafe

The Mount Vernon City Council decided Sunday to declare a currently unoccupied Main Street building a public nuisance. As of Tuesday afternoon, the building was barricaded off, but city officials were in the process of getting materials to use to...

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The Mount Vernon City Council decided Sunday to declare a currently unoccupied Main Street building a public nuisance.

As of Tuesday afternoon, the building was barricaded off, but city officials were in the process of getting materials to use to mark the area as unsafe.

"We've known for quite some time that this building was not taken care of by its owner, but not to what extent," City Council President Weston Frank said. "It's not any of our business what somebody's doing with their property if it doesn't pose an imminent threat."

The owner of the building is believed to be a woman who lives in Idaho, and city officials have not yet been successful in their attempts to contact her. The building, which used to house the Mustang Cafe, was found to be unsafe when a Mount Vernon resident was permitted to go inside to look for historical items and found that the building's floor had given way, Frank said.

That person contacted the city superintendent, who put signs on the doors telling people to stay out.

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The building had been discussed at the council's regularly-scheduled September meeting, and it was then that the council decided to hold Sunday's emergency meeting to specifically address the building.

The property has been declared a nuisance, and a notice of noncompliance was sent to the owner. Frank said he hopes the council is able to get in contact with her to speed up the process of figuring out a solution.

"You look at Third (Avenue) in Mitchell. We want to avoid a situation like that. We are not interested in barricading the street off and kind of waiting for something to happen. We'd rather be proactive and do what we can to make it safe right away," he said.

Frank said members of the community are being warned not to park or walk near the building and especially not to go inside.

The city has also given American Legion members permission to use the community rental space until a more permanent space is found, as the building in question shares a wall with the current Legion hall.

"The Legion has a few things that they need to clean out," Frank said. "But personally, even them entering the building makes me nervous."

Now that the notice has been mailed to the property owner and the public is being warned of the safety hazard, Frank said the city council is actively looking for potential solutions.

"We have a duty to our community to make sure it's safe for all the rest of the residents," he said. "We are working with every entity that can help us and point us in the right direction."

Related Topics: MOUNT VERNON
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