September 30, 2014

Elyria
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Old Elyria City Hall barricaded as demolition draws near

The old Elyria City Hall on Broad Street is barricaded Monday as demolition nears. (CT photo by Bruce Bishop.)

ELYRIA — A chain-link fence and concrete barriers placed around the front of the old Elyria City Hall are merely the prequel to an intended demolition project to take place downtown in the coming weeks.

The building, which has been decimated by water, mold and mildew almost exponentially since city officials abandoned the building for new digs in 2006, is coming down. Monday’s first step was about safety because of the building’s close proximity to Broad Street.

“The barriers are up and the sidewalk will be closed for quite some time even after the building comes down,” city Engineer Tim Ujvari said. “There will be a lot of activity at the site including removing building debris and rubble as well as bringing in back fill to fill the basement.”

Ujvari said the tentative demolition date is Feb. 11.

Construction crews have finished the asbestos abatement work and are setting up to do some structural support work inside the building. The systematic approach to razing the building is needed because it shares walls with adjacent buildings on both the east and west.

The walls will have to remain to keep the other buildings intact, Ujvari said.

Once the building comes down, workers will waterproof the exposed walls.

This project is one of necessity.

In 2012, chief Building Inspector Phil Lahetta condemned the building and declared it unfit for human occupancy, while Fire Chief Richard Benton told city officials that the building was in danger of collapsing.

Several weeks after the building’s demise was announced, a crew working on the rear of the building in a large truck with a bucket escaped without injury when the ground beneath the truck gave way, causing a 6-foot by 10-foot sinkhole just outside the back door. The boiler room of the building was exposed until city officials covered the area with large steel plates.

The demolition is expected to cost upward of $600,000.

Ujvari said after the demolition, top soil and seeding will turn the area into green space until it is developed.

Mayor Holly Brinda said no concrete plans are set for the area.

Contact Lisa Roberson at 329-7121 or lroberson@chroniclet.com.