A downtown Crothersville building owner was given 90 days to make improvements.
Hubert Ashley Jr. told the town council during a meeting in August 2019 that he would make the Ashley Foundry building at 125 S. Armstrong St. appealing to passersby.
A letter written by town council President Danieta Foster was sent in September 2019 listing the improvements that needed to be made by December.
During a recent council meeting, Foster said most of those requests have been met. The only big question is if the roof is going to be repaired, and Foster said Ashley told her he has the materials to do it.
“You can see what he has done and what he has not done from this list that was supposed to be done in December,” Foster said after sharing copies of the letter to the council, which picked up three new members in January.
“The choice we have to make is are we going to say, ‘Job done’ and go ahead and buy that lot or are we going to say, ‘You’ve got to pay $35,000 if you want to sell this lot because it will have a lien on it,’” Foster said.
In June 2019, the town and Ashley agreed on a purchase of the properties at 117 and 119 S. Armstrong St. for $1. After meeting at the property to discuss what would be taken down, however, there was miscommunication on what portion Ashley wanted to keep.
During a council meeting in July, the members rescinded their vote and discussed a new plan with Ashley and his son, Bobby.
The council told the Ashleys they were going to remove the unsafe portion of the buildings at 117 and 119 S. Armstrong St. After those came down, the town and the Ashleys would meet to form a list of repairs that would need to be made to the foundry property.
If the Ashleys made the repairs or showed they were making reasonable attempts to make the repairs, the town would purchase the property where the buildings were removed for $1, and the town would be responsible for the $35,000 demolition cost.
If the repairs were not made, the town would place a lien on the property, making the Ashleys responsible, and further steps would be taken by the town to correct the problems on the foundry property.
When the two buildings next to the Ashleys’ business were torn down and the rubble was cleared, that left the north side of their property exposed. That shows brick that’s partially covered, a red-painted wall and a raised roof.
In October, Hubert told the council that his son removed half of the roof, and the materials were there to redo it. Work, however, hadn’t gone as fast as planned because a family member had some health issues.
Hubert was unable to attend the recent council meeting, but Foster still wanted to discuss the issue with the council and said she would invite Hubert to the next meeting, which is at 6 p.m. March 3 at Crothersville Town Hall.
Foster said she also would ask Hubert about the roof and other improvements.
“The inside of the building is in horrible condition, but it is not going to come down like the other building was,” she said. “It is structurally sound. The floor is not, but the building is.”
Councilman Jamy Greathouse said if Foster can provide proof that Hubert has the building materials to take care of the roof, the town can determine how to proceed.
“Looking at the condition of us obtaining that lot, all he has left to do is the roof, and the other major structural issues have been resolved already,” Greathouse said. “Then for the town itself and the possibility of redevelopment downtown, I think it’s more important for us to obtain that lot. I don’t want us to do something and something happens where we don’t have the opportunity to purchase that after it’s all said and done.”
Councilwoman Katie Masters said she thinks the town should put a lien on the property.
“It’s not that I don’t want the lot, but I think it’s the fact that all of this is something that (Hubert) said he was going to do, and he didn’t,” she said.
Councilman Jason Hillenburg asked Foster about the town safety board’s stance on what the Ashleys have done with their building. She said the council wound up taking on the demolition of the two buildings because of the cost and also made a list of repairs for the Ashleys to make to their building.
“It’s on us now because the town’s the one out of $35,000,” Foster said, adding she isn’t sure if the Ashleys will be able to pay the town for that cost. “I just want everybody to know where we stand with this. I’ll tell you the truth: Either way, we’re out $35,000.”
If the town winds up purchasing the properties where the buildings were demolished, it will discuss options of what to place there.