City & Government, Creswell

City to abate Whistle Stop

This Sept. 10 photo shows virtually nothing has been done with The Whistle Stop property since council last discussed its options a few weeks ago. ERIN TIERNEY/THE CHRONICLE

CRESWELL – The Whistle Stop building at 213 S. Mill St. — a charred, abandoned structure since a 2017 fire — finally will be cleaned up thanks to a city council vote Monday night.
With the vote to move forward on an abatement process, the building, owned solely by Carlton ”Rocky” Garton, will be torn down and the lot cleaned up.
That means that the City will pay to clean up Garton’s private property – a process that City Attorney Ross Williamson said is not under the City’s or council’s obligation to clean up; though the alternative would be to leave clean up to the owner.
Councilor Misty Inman asked Monday what would be the consequence of not moving forward with the abatement. Williamson said his guess would be the property would continue in its current state.
There is the potential the City might not recover its costs from the abatement, Williamson said.
”I am not sure what the property value is, but I am not sure if this is a recoverable lein,” Williamson said. ”Even if we go through the process and take care of it, the city may not see money from this, so this may be a general fund cost to the city.”
With an LRAPA report stating there is asbestos-contaminated material on the property, council voiced its concerns of potential public health risks.
”This is a public health thing and I feel like we’re (council) responsible to step up,” City Councilor Martha McReynolds Jr. said. ” Just because it’s private property doesn’t mean we can turn a blind eye.”
Williamson said council and the city could take it upon themselves and ”do this good deed that is not being done by anyone else,” and stated it is not actually the council’s responsibility to do so.
Council unanimously declared the property a public nuisance, which kicks in the next step: providing official notice of nuisance to property owner. The code allows for 10 days for Garton to clean up the property. If he does not, the City has the option to abate the property for him, Williamson said.
Once abated by the city, the charges are then sent to the property owner. If unpaid within 30 days, a lien will be put on the property. If property changes hands through sale, the lien will have to be cleared before that purchase is completed, Williamson said.
McReynolds asked if putting a lien on the property would be the only way for the city to recover costs from the abatement. Williamson said that alternatively, the City could fine Garton, which can be enforced through collection of a lawsuit. The City could also foreclose on the lein and force a sale, though that route would cost attorney time and expenses, all to potentially still not recover the full amount of the abatement.
Councilor Kevin Prociw asked if Williamson knew of a predetermined cost for the abatement. Williamson speculated it could be between $50,000 and $80,000 to clean up.
However, the budget allows for only $8,000 to abate.
If more money is needed for the abatement, a budget meeting would be held and a recommended cost would come back to council for approval at a later date.



View this profile on Instagram


The Chronicle (@thechronicle1909) • Instagram photos and videos