City purchases Four Seasons building

Marianne Gillespie

Four Seasons Hardware Store used to be the place residents shopped to improve their homes. The Chillicothe City Council now owns the property, which is located in the center of a block aldermen say they want to improve.

The council unanimously approved purchasing 227 W. Cedar St., which it closed on Tuesday, at its Monday night meeting. Alderwoman Judy Cantwell was absent from the meeting.

Alderman Troy Childers asked if the aldermen were satisfied with its “due diligence.”

Economic development committee chairman Jim Thornton said the city received a report of 15 percent asbestos, mainly on the outside of the building. Two minor issues also were found.

If the building is sold and used as is, city attorney Mike Seghetti said, then there would not be problems. If the building is demolished, then the asbestos abatement would be $46,000, according to the report.

Seghetti said the council could try to pass along those costs to a developer.

“Just so that everybody understands the reason why we’re looking at that property is that we’d like to see that whole block developed into senior citizens (housing), and we’d like to have somebody else build it,” Thornton said.

If that occurs, then the city would receive the property taxes for it.

The city is paying the $150,000 purchase price through Tax Increment Financing funds, which Thornton said is money earmarked for improving the city and improving property within the TIF district.

Aldermen also discussed allowing owner Butch Thompson 30 days to finish removing store contents, as long as he provides insurance.

The council also approved paying C & S Striping $2,472 to flush the city’s fire hydrants.

Chillicothe Fire Chief John Myers explained that the flushing is needed as part of the Insurance Services Office’s requirements.

The city’s ISO rating remains at four, with one representing exemplary fire protection and 10 meaning that the city’s fire services do not meet ISO’s minimum requirements, according to the ISO’s Web site. The rating also affects residents’ homeowners’ insurance premiums.

About 10 years ago, Myers said, a contractor, instead of the firemen, began flushing the hydrants. But it has not been done recently due to insurance issues and other problems.

Myers said the measure is important, as it helps the fire department locate hydrants that are not working or pressure changes indicating old water mains needing to be replaced.

It is recommended that the city’s more than 400 hydrants be flushed twice a year, Myers said, but the city only does it once a year.

Myers also said the council should consider having the hydrants painted. In years past, some Scouts or civic groups painted them, but they have not been painted for several years, Myers said.

Also relating to water, the council approved a purchase of no more than $2,000 for two cradles, two floats, 32 rollers and eight post brackets to maintain the city’s docks near the foot of Walnut Street.

Alderman Carl Spencer said someone told him he avoided Chillicothe’s docks because of his boat getting scratched.

Economic development director Lisa Burnett said weather stripping is added each year, but said the biggest problem is no signage for the no-wake area.

Myers said they have put signs and buoys out in previous years, but the barges rip them out.

Burnett suggested putting the signs on the metal pylons.

The enforcement of the no-wake area also was discussed.

Childers also asked about the drop off in the boat launching area and asked city engineer Ken Coulter if he had surveyed it. Coulter said he had, but at the time, it was hard to tell. He said he needs to look at it again when the water recedes.

Childers said he knew one boater tore the axle off his trailer trying to get back up the ramp.

In other items, the council:

• rejected all bids for the demolition at 10 W. Elm St. Thornton said due to legal issues relating to the project, and on the advice of Seghetti, the aldermen decided not to award a contract.

• heard city clerk Sharon Crabel read a letter from the Chillicothe Plan Commission, which asked that the city consider removing mining operations as an allowed use of an industrial park zoning. Commission secretary Jim Redmond told the council the commission is updating the comprehensive plan. The members want to mark some areas for industrial park zoning, but do not want the possibility of a gravel pit to be located in the areas. Chillicothe also has an agricultural zoning with a special use for mining, he said. The issue was referred to the judicial committee. 

• concurred with the mayoral proclamation of Arbor Day as May 31 in the city of Chillicothe.  Shademakers/ Beautification Board liaison Mel Witte said that Arbor Day will be at Walnut Park in Rome with the planting of four trees, one in a resident’s honor

• approved paying C & G Concrete $10,794 for the Truitt patching project

• approved a notice for special event held on public property for the Chillicothe Optimist Club to use city streets and City Park stage for its annual 5K “River Run” race from 7-11 a.m. May 24

• heard Thornton say Coulter will look at all city roads to see which ones need work, as aldermen are considering pulling money from the city’s reserves to maintain them. The public works and finance committees will meet jointly about the topic.

• and accepted a $10,750 proposal from L. Patrick McElhiney, CPA, to prepare the city’s audit for the fiscal year ending today.