Building collapses in downtown Hartford City
Concerns raised for other structures that may fall
HARTFORD CITY, Ind. (WPTA) -A three-story building collapsed Wednesday in Hartford City and now, officials are working to piece together what happened and what happens next.
“It’s sad,” Hartford City Councilman Dustin George said. “I was not surprized. I have been ringing the alarm bell for quite some time, that that was one of the next structures to collapse and it was.”
The more than 100-year-old vacant building is located in the heart of downtown. Officials say no serious injuries were reported but it could have been much worse as the neighbouring building had people inside when the structure collapsed.
Hartford City Councilman Dustin George says the owners of the newly collapsed building are a company that no longer exists. He says this could mean that taxpayers would foot the bill for clean-up of the building. George says the building collapse is not new. This is the third building to fall in the city’s downtown in 9 years and other building downtown are on the verge of collapse.
“It’s not a political issue. It is not type of political issue this is a community issue,” George said. “This is an issue we have to face immediately. We have unfortunately kick this can down the road long enough that I say our foot is now bleeding and its critical.”
Building collapses are also not a Hartford City problem. The councilman says he’s seen several communities have similar issues with old, rundown buildings.
“I grew up three blocks from downtown,” George said. “This was my playground. These buildings are sentimental to me and a lot of Hartford City residents and to see them collapse is heart-breaking. But I don’t want what’s happening now to define us as a community.”
George says the community has a decision to make; start to fix the structures falling down or demolish those on the verge of collapse. He says he wants to collaborate with other cities to see how they fixed their money. Either choice, will cost taxpayers money.
An estimate of updating and fixing one downtown building is costly. George says to redo one building, which has three floors, it could cost anywhere from $500,000 to a million dollars.
Currently, the city is already renovating one of the buildings downtown. George says it will take more than the city to revitalize downtown.
“It’s not a political issue. It is not type of political issue this is a community issue. This is an issue we have to face immediately. We have unfortunately kick this can down the road long enough that I say our foot is now bleeding and its critical.”
Councilman George says he would like to have a town hall meeting to have a community discussion on what’s next for the city and let residents voice their ideas.
“Downtown is the heart of a community,” George said. “We’ve put a lot of investment already into downtown. But we need to see if this is something our residents want.”
As for the potential for other building, George says he has already reached out to one of the building’s owners who has promised to start fixing the issues presented. Officials say they are waiting from a report from the structural engineers to see how to clean up the building. At this time, it is believed that building is a total loss and there is no word on what caused the fall Wednesday.
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