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Darlington approves raze order

DARLINGTON – With a full agenda and a meeting room full of interested parties the Tuesday, April. 4 the regular meeting of the common council of the City of Darlington was called to order by Mayor David Breunig at 7:00 p.m.
    Mike Reuter, Darlington Building Inspector, was present and brought up an issue that has been bantered about, almost monthly, at the city’s meetings. The property at 110 Spring Street was damaged by fire April 9, 2016 and has sat untouched since. The house is owned by Tri-State Restoration, Thomas Herbst. Reuter stated the building is dangerous, unsafe and unsanitary and the council should order that the building be razed (demolished). Reuter has contacted Herpst on several occasions and is not returning phone calls at this point.
    The council asked what are the steps to get this done?  The council would need to approved a raze order, then Herbst would be served with the order. If nothing happens with the property, have the judicial issue a formal court raze order. If it fails to be razed at that point, the city could go in and demolish the building and the costs could be put on the properties taxes. The raze order would be permanently placed on the deed.
    Alder John Sonsalla asked, “What is the integrity of the stones?” Reuter answered, “I did go up and walk around it. There is a safety issue, the roof is falling in. Water has gotten in the rock these past two years and it’s pretty crumbly.”
    Alder Don Osterday said, “My concern is, that is a historic building, probably one of the four oldest in town. I hate to see us lose it, when you lose a historic building, it’s gone. I wish we had a historic society that was a little more active. A group that could step in and do something to save this building. I wish we knew for sure that the house is not salvageable.” Reuter said, “Everything is salvageable, if you want to spend the money. I’m guessing it would cost $100,000 to $150,000 to repair that building.” Sonsalla said, “The only way you could save it is with a state grant.” Alder Steve Pickett said, “It would take a really big grant. I think it’s cost prohibitive.”
    City Attorney, Bill McDaniel said, “the process could be stopped at any time. If the owner came in with a plan of action (to save the building), he could petition the court for a restraining order to prevent the city from razing it.” Sonsalla said, “As a council, we have been very patient, my patience for this issue has ended.” Sonsalla then made a motion to start the process to raze the building. Motion is approved. The owner shall raze the building in compliance with Wisconsin law on or before May 15, 2017.
    A week after this meeting, an unconfirmed report that Ted and Angie Thuli purchased the house.
Street Construction
    Bart Nies of Delta 3 Engineering presented the council with several bids for approved street and utilities work on Madison, Arthur and E. Lucy Streets. Neis said, “The city received six bids, the bids range from $591,842 to 876,573. All the work that was added (sidewalks) at the end is included in these numbers. These numbers are about $95,000 below estimates. Congratulations you got some very competitive numbers.”
    Jeremy Williams, Department of Public Works head said he did some checking into the low bidder and they have had no problems in other communities. Sonsalla asked if Williams had any preference among the lowest four bidders. Williams said no. A motion was made to go with the low bid – Owens Excavating and Trenching of Hazel Green with a bid of $591,842 – motion was approved.
Hwy. 23 Reconstruction Project
    Next, Neis presented a contract dealing with the State Hwy. 23 reconstruction project, slated for 2020 or 2021. The contract states that Delta 3 Engineering will design and engineer replacement and upgrade of: sanitary sewer system components; water system components; sanitary sewer and water systems. Delta 3 will also prepare preliminary options of probable construction costs and provide overall project management. Neis said, “The state will want preliminary plans by July 2017 for the project, that date is probably flexible. The state wants these plans so they can put it on their plans to see if there are any conflicts.”
    Osterday said, “It’s something that we have to do and put in place.” Bruenig noted the costs for this project are eligible to be paid with TIF funds. Osterday made a motion to approve the engineering contract with Delta 3 at a cost of $30,750. Sonsalla asked, “If the DOT decides to postpone the project how will that effect this contract?” Neis answered, “These plans will be good for years down the road, as long as the DOT doesn’t change the scope of the project.” The motion was approved.
    Kurt Muchow of Vierbicher Associates was present, also with a project contract in hand. This contract also pertained to the 2021 State Hwy, 23 reconstruction. This contract will plan, with public input, the design, enhancements, lighting and look of the downtown area. Vierbicher is recommending public input and they will facilitate the meetings and process. DOT has a May 1 deadline for these plans. Michow stated that there are plans to meet with city council, Darlington Chamber of Commerce and an open house for the public on Monday, April 17, 2017.
    The city will have CSS (Community Sensitive Solution) funds available in the amount of $133,000. This money is exactly for these types of enhancements and originate from the DOT. In addition to CSS funds the city can use TIF money for the project costs. The DOT and Historical Society has a say in the final decision on these plans. Williams said, “It’s good to have these meetings close together so ideas stay fresh.” A motion was made by Pickett to approve the Vierbicher contract for streetscape and lighting consulting assistance in the amount of not greater than $15,000. Approved.
    In Other Business:
    •Approved alcohol beverage license for City Service Brewing LLC at 404 Main Street, Darlington. Owner Ted Thuli stated they would be open by May 20, 2017. Thuli also said they bought the rights to Badger State Mineral Water name and will be make soda.
    •Item 8d was not acted on as Quilt Wind Farm LLC found another building to rent.
    •Approved the purchase of a new voting tabulator machine at a cost of $7,730, plus $227 for warranty and support fees. Phil Risseeuw, clerk-treasurer said he received a phone call from the election commission and they strongly recommended the replacement of the current vote scanner.
    •Approved the hiring of summer employees for the Park & Rec Dept.
    •Approved the bid from Bullseye Portable Restroom for the parks in the amount of $884.
    •Approved all department vouchers for $421,910.