by Patrice Johnson
During its Monday evening meeting Feb. 5 in the Old Middle School, the Stockbridge Village Council scheduled a special budget meeting for Feb. 19 at 7 p.m. Representing the Stockbridge Downtown Development Authority, Daryl Anderson reported that due to declining revenues and increasing expenses, the SDDA would like to reduce the annual amount of funding it shared with the village to $40,000, down from its regular $65,000. The council countered with a suggestion that the SDDA cut back in increments of $10,000, $10,000 and $5,000 over a three-year period. Then discussions moved to “outsourcing,” a topic added to the amended agenda, and the meeting took an indecisive turn.
A council member suggested voting to remove the condemnation notice placed on the door of the downtown retail business, BA Sports. Village attorney John Gormley said that while the council could vote to remove a red tag, it was not the council’s expertise and the appointed professional “had say.” Later he commented that only the building inspector could remove a red tag.
President Rob Hollenbeck asked attendee Judi Cook, the building owner, to address the council. Slump-shouldered and visibly nervous, the soft-spoken Cook reported that she had initially hired Tiger Construction to fix a truss in the factory area of her building. The truss was fixed and approved by building inspector Charlie Barnum, she said. Then “Ron” of Tiger Construction, acting without consent, roamed the adjoining building where she had hired a firm to strip down a section to uncover any structural flaws.
“They added a shear wall for strength,” she said. “I had no idea of any other flaws.” When Ron expressed concerns, Cook said she approved having the construction company’s architectural consultant work up plans to correct. Instead, the consultant issued a report calling for the immediate evacuation of the building housing BA Sports–StockbridgeCommunityNews.com, Jan. 20, 2018.
“I was shocked to receive the notice to condemn in the mail,” Cook explained. Then inspector Barnum taped a condemned notice on her door. Her business operations have been suspended almost three weeks now, she said, panic evident in her voice. “It’s embarrassing.”
In a meeting after the tags were applied, Cook claimed she asked again for design plans from Tiger Construction’s consultant. She was informed he was not qualified. Seeking remedy, she hired a structural engineer. After inspection, she said the engineer wrote a letter indicating the building was safe and should have the red tag removed. However, she said, the building inspector refused to do so.
Cook indicated she has hired Ark Foundations, a company specializing in foundation repairs. She is trying to arrange for its representative and Barnum to meet this week to discuss removing the red tag.
“I’ve always done everything I’ve been asked to do,” Cook told the council.
The council took a break, and Cook said, “Just tell me what to do.” She indicated the condemnation notice did not specify changes required to remedy the situation.
The meeting resumed, and the council voted trustee Frederick Cattell as its designee on blight issues. It decided to look into conducting a water rate study prior to initiating rate hikes that several trustees indicated would be necessary to cover shortfalls. A vote was taken not to levy water charges on vacant land with no rights to service, called taps.
Meanwhile, BA Sports remains closed.