Written by JORDAN CRAVENS Sentinel Staff Writer
Wednesday, 20 November 2013 11:17
NORTH BALTIMORE - Since the CSX intermodal facility first located just outside North Baltimore's corporation limits, village leaders and citizens alike have been desperate for news of a business boom.
On Tuesday night, council members received word from a Wood County businessman who wants to purchase two eyesore properties on West Broadway Street to clean them up and develop them.
Chris Bates, president of Bates Recycling Inc., a Cygnet-based company, and his attorney, John Filkins, asked council Tuesday for its help in moving forward with acquiring the former Johnson Rubber Company and Smith Foundry.
The pair sough assistance from council as they have hit roadblocks in trying to purchases the lots.
"The reason we are bringing this to your attention is because there is a process by which the property can be put up for sale," Filkins told council.
"It is not possible for him (Bates) to go to a private sale. It has to be a public bid," he said.
Filkins said the Wood County Auditor must put the Johnson lot up for sale in order to collect taxes owed.
"If no one prompts the county, my guess is that this property is just going to sit there," he said.
While the Smith Foundry is forfeited land owned by the state, the former Johnson Rubber Company site will owe an estimated $126,799 in delinquent taxes by the end of 2013, according to the Wood County Auditor's website.
Council member Aaron Patterson called the properties an "eyesore and a nuisance."
"We have a gentleman here who has said he is ready to do something with these properties. I think we, as community leaders, need to do everything in our power to help him in any way we can," Patterson said.
The building is also a security issue. Police Chief Allan Baer said the building is unable to be secured due to its poor condition.
Bates said he had been in the building with an environmental inspector and it has been determined the Johnson facility has asbestos, pits of lubrication and barrels of chemicals left inside.
Council member Janet Goldner questioned why the EPA isn't involved. "How is it that this building was just abandoned with everything left in it?"
"We are just left with the building and it's frustrating. You are right," Patterson said.
In the meantime, council voted 4-1, with Jeff Bretz voting "no" to have the village solicitor kick-start the process of getting the lots up for sale.
Also at Tuesday's meeting, council member Bill Cameron pleaded with council to take action on adding a fourth tornado siren to the village's southwest side.
He said many residents on the west side, including about 75 seniors who live in the Westhaven Apartments, could not hear the tornado sirens that went off during the powerful storm that whipped through the county earlier this week.
"We have to do something," Cameron said.
The village has three sirens, which includes two on the east side of the village and one in the center.
To conclude the meeting on Tuesday, council met in executive session with Baer to discuss employee hiring.
Following the 30-minute closed door session, council, by a 4-1 vote, agreed to hire Michael Meyers as a full-time police officer beginning Dec. 16 at a pay rate of $13 per hour. Leslee Thompson voted against the hiring and Greg Waaland was absent from the meeting.
Meyers has been a part-time officer for North Baltimore for 1 ¬Ω years. He was one of two finalists for the position. The Luckey police chief was the other finalist.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 20 November 2013 11:32