By Frank Lewis
The Marting’s building, which has become a millstone around the city’s neck since it purchased the structure in April of 2002, continues to come up at city council meetings on a semi-regular basis. Monday night’s meeting was no exception.
“We had somebody submit a request and you (city council) didn’t get it and they’re wanting us to pass a lease on the Marting’s building,” Portsmouth City Manager Derek Allen said during his report. “So I’m going to respond back to them that there’s no way, there was a deadline, that we could get it through council and have a discussion and have multiple readings for public input due to the time schedule that they submitted.”
Allen said he wanted to make council aware that there is an entity that is looking into submitting application for a grant, and that entity wants the city to assist them in obtaining that grant to meet the plan that they have for the building.
Since the city purchased the building for $2 million in 2002, the voters have told them they can’t spend any money on remodeling, rehabilitating or bringing it up to code. That has resulted in the building sitting there for 12 years in a deteriorating state. Windows are boarded up, bricks have fallen into public pathways as well as onto the roof of American Savings Bank.
Several years ago the elevators were removed from the shafts in order to allow the city to turn off all the power and basically shut the building off.
“There is just no way — with the controversy associated with that building — and the tight deadline,” Allen said. “There would have to be a public discussion and Council would have to come to an agreement on the terms of a lease. It’s just not something you can turn around and give back to somebody in two weeks and that’s basically what came forward.”
Frank Lewis can be reached at 740-353-3101, Ext. 1928, or on Twitter @FrankLewispdt.