Marion leaders table demolition issue

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN JERRY ENGLER
The Marion City Commission Monday put on hold a request from Ron Cooper for $1,500 to demolish a house at 612 S. Freeborn, fearing “it could set a dangerous precedent.”

Mayor Martin Tice said he would want to take it “under further advisement” before making a final decision.

Commissioner Jim Crofoot doubted the fairness to other city residents in helping one property owner in a situation where he both gained property and “got rid of a neighborhood eyesore.”

Cooper, who thought the city might assist him because of its campaign to clean up junky or unsafe properties, was commended by both commissioners for making the effort.

Cooper asked for the money based on bids he got for tearing the house down, and putting the remains in dumpsters. He suggested city workers could do the job for the money involved.

City Administrator David Mayfield said any such funds are not budgeted, and would have to come out of the capital improvement fund if the commissioners decided to fund the work.

Crofoot said the last time he could remember the city doing anything in such a manner was tearing down a hardware building the city had purchased–“and that was 15 or 20 years ago when you could just haul it to the tree dump and burn it.”

City Clerk Linda Holub said she could think of a couple of such structures the city had disposed of, but she thought they had been done at the owners’ expense.

Crofoot said the city usually becomes involved through the condemnation process with the cost assessed back against the property.

Cooper said he has been removing asbestos siding from the house, classified as a hazardous material, and sacking it for disposal through the transfer station.

Mayfield said he has been informed by Pat McCool of the Rural Water Association that a request by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment that the city slow down its water plant production to 400 gallons a minute for chlorine action will be necessary only during cooler months.

This means, said Mayfield, that plant operators won’t have to be there for longer time periods requiring overtime pay because higher water-use time is in the warm months when people do such activities as watering grass.

He explained that water plant production can be increased to 550 gallons a minute in warm months because of heat-induced faster chemical reaction.

Mayfield said that as a member of the Kansas Municipal Energy Agency, Marion will receive on loan a FLIR infrared imaging systems camera to detect electrical system hot spots that cause electrical power losses.

Public Works Director Harvey Sanders said the hot spots are loose connections at transformers that can cause further problems. The work with the camera won’t include detections on the customers’ side of the meter, he said.

Street Superintendent Marty Fredrickson said the city crew worked two days straight to finish painting the swimming pool so it can be opened on schedule.

The commissioners voted to reward such efforts by city workers, including the more arduous work in events like the ice storm this winter, by giving them Chingawassa Days buttons and swimming pool passes.

The Chingawassa buttons will be purchased at a group discount rate of $18 each for 18 full-time employees, a total cost of $324.

The swimming pool passes will be given to full-time employees, part-time employees and firemen.

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