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City Building Requires Action

Martins Ferry City Councilman Bruce Shrodes is right about the City Building: A single problem with it is no reason to abandon the structure and spend taxpayers’ money on a replacement.

Problem is, the collapse of part of the building’s brick facade earlier this month is not the first time Martins Ferry officials have had reason to be concerned about the structure.

About a year ago, another piece of the building fell off. It was a piece of metal from a window.

Council members discussed the more recent problem last week. Mayor John Davies reported Kalkreuth Roofing is preparing an estimate to repair the brick facade. That led into a discussion that also was had in August 2019, when the metal piece fell.

At that time, city Service Director Scott Porter said significant deterioration had occurred around the building’s windows. The facility is more than a century old, he noted.

Doing anything about the building would be expensive. An engineering study of the facility during the 1990s concluded it needed about $1.4 million in repairs and upgrades.

In case you hadn’t noticed, prices for virtually everything have risen substantially since then.

During last week’s meeting, council members adopted the prudent approach. They seemed to be in agreement that another engineering study should be conducted. If only to determine whether the building is dangerous, that would be wise.

Presumably, a new study would provide estimates on the cost of repairs. Depending on how high that is, council members may want to consider alternatives. One is to construct a new municipal building. Another is to find an existing structure that could be renovated for such use.

In seems obvious in any event that Martins Ferry taxpayers are going to have to cough up a significant amount of money to ensure municipal offices are housed in a safe building. Better now than later, when real estate prices and construction costs are likely to be noticeably higher than they are now.

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