September 29 — The condition of neglected properties dominated Wednesday’s works council meeting, from the oldest property in Logansport to cleaning up problematic properties.
Domicile Square at 2108 North St. was built in 1836, and Paul Willham, communications director for Logansport Landmarks, brought its condition to the attention of the members of the Works Board.
He would like an inspection done on the property and he wants to know what the owners of Indianapolis are planning to do with it.
“This property has degraded over the past three administrations,” said Willham. “It is the city’s most significant and iconic property.”
Code enforcement officer Randy Ulery said he and Rennewanz spoke with the owners. They cleaned up the property and barricaded it including the historic shed / barn behind it.
Rennewanz said he believed the owners intended to resume the restoration, but they have yet to secure a permit to do so.
Willham is concerned about the water damage over the coming winter.
“Cleaning up weeds doesn’t attack foundations,” said Willham. “Just ‘secure’ is not going to stop the deterioration.”
He also noted that Cass County harassed the former owners of Greensfelder Mansion, 806 E. Market St., about lead-based paint during renovations.
Inconsistent rules and loopholes for contractors and renovators cause problems, he added.
Deputy Mayor Jacob Pomasl said Logansport was not set up to perform certain inspections and requirements with its ordinances. However, the city has sought to update its ordinances.
“This is not the only ministry that is behind schedule,” said Mayor Chris Martin. “We’re stuck in the ’80s and’ 90s.”
Martin spoke to City Council Chairman Dave Morris and other council members about updating the ordinances. These include the Animal Ordinance, Code Enforcement, Building Commission Orders and Rental Orders.
Martin said the problem with keeping rental properties up to standard is that there isn’t a lot of bite to the rental ordinance. For rental properties, city officials can call for inspections, but if the calls aren’t returned, inspections aren’t done, he said.
There must be fines or consequences for bringing things to the attention of owners, especially absentees, he said.
People buy properties in Indiana, including Logansport, but live in California, Florida, and other states.
“It’s ridiculous,” he said.
There is another problem, says Martin.
Some historic properties are rentals, and people out of state don’t care about local history. Sometimes when there is a fine, out-of-state homeowners don’t get the message.
But many prescription loopholes are only known when someone complains.
For historic properties, Willham said he plans to continue bringing those in poor condition to the attention of the works committee members.
Next week, he plans to speak to the 161-year-old former Catholic Church of Saint-Vincent-de-Paul, located at 805 Spencer Street, currently held by the Emmaus mission.
Logansport Landmarks publishes a list of the most endangered properties each year; the church has been on the list since its inception in 2016.
Contact James D. Wolf Jr. at [email protected] or 574-732-5117