Oskaloosa tries to limit access to burned house
by Dennis Sharkey
Oskaloosa City Council members have taped off a burned down house in hopes children will stay out.
The city decided to court off the property on the corner of Hamilton and Delaware streets after City Attorney Mike Hayes told the council that in doing so the city would relieve itself from any liability if someone were to get hurt. He said the fault would then lye with the property owner Greg Killingsworth.
The house burned down in late May and the ruins have remained virtually untouched since.
Some council members such as Emily Malsbury want to do a lot more than just tell people to stay out. She told other council members at the July 5 meeting that she wanted the house taken down immediately.
“Somebody is going to get hurt over there,” Malsbury said.
Hayes said the city cannot order the property demolished until the proper procedures have been done in sequential order.
“You can’t skip a step,” Hayes said.
The council ordered Fire Chief John Hamm to investigate the property and present the findings to the council. Hayes said at that point the city can decide whether or not to act.
“Nothing has been presented to the governing body,” Hayes said. “They have to have something to act upon.”
Normally with a dangerous building five citizens need to sign a complaint for a public officer to investigate. In this case Hayes said it would be appropriate for the council to instruct Hamm to investigate.
City Clerk Patty Hamm said Killingsworth, who is living in Lawrence, has been sent a letter about the yard and has be asked to attend a council meeting but there has been no response.
“It’s a miracle from God that nobody has gotten hurt over there yet,” Malsbury said.
Mayor Mike Paavola said he has spoken with two citizens who would volunteer time to help with demolition. The cost would be incurred by the city. Hayes said the city would likely not get their money back but the expenses could be added to the property taxes.
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