By FRANK LEWIS
PDT Staff Writer
The members of the Portsmouth City Building Committee said Wednesday evening they will ask Portsmouth Mayor David Malone, Portsmouth Council President John Haas, and interim Community Development Director Tracy Shearer to start attending their meetings.
The committee finds itself at a standstill on many fronts until they are able to determine several things, such as how many properties the city owns, the structural condition of the current city building, and the cost of hiring a structural engineer to inspect the building, so the committee decided they need more input.
“From now on we need to request the mayor’s presence,” Sean Boldman said, adding Haas and Community Development Director to the list. “If they don’t come or do come it will tell us how serious they think this is.”
The focus of the meeting was a structural engineer’s report done in 2006, with the understanding that some of the things included in that report have been done since the report was filed. Among the recommendations were that the front entrance area be closed permanently, and alternate entrances and exits located.
Chairman Rich Saddler said he had asked Mayor David Malone to get them a list of properties owned by the city, and that Malone had passed the request on to City Clerk Tamara Nathan, who sent letters to all department heads, asking for an inventory of property. Saddler said Nathan had received only two responses — one from the City Health Department, and the other from the City Waterworks Department.
During the course of the meeting, estimates of 50 pieces of property all the way up to possibly 300 pieces of property were discussed.
“All properties the city owns are supposed to be on file with the City Clerk,” Saddler said. “But for whatever reasons that has not been done. There is no comprehensive list of what the city owns.”
Boldman continues to press for a change in the process of how properties are sold, suggesting an absolute auction. The minimum bid for a property sold by the city must be at least two-thirds of the appraised value, according to current rules. The committee indicated in many cases, the houses are not worth the appraised values, leading Boldman to continue to suggest selling the properties for as little as $1, if someone would buy the property and begin paying taxes on it.
Saddler, Boldman, Sharon Bender and Dr. Kenneth Carlson agreed nothing further can be accomplished until they receive more information. Carlson said he would contact Tanner Stone Holsinger Dongess & Company architects, to see if he can find out how much an engineering study would cost.
After it was determined by the committee earlier that it would be impossible to come up with recommendations in time for the November election, Saddler said he now believes it would be possible to narrow the recommendations to two or three and present them to Council and have the ones chosen ready in time for the November ballot after all.
Boldman stressed he wants the committee to work and come up with positive alternatives to present to Council then move forward. But he is cautiously optimistic.
“If no additional information comes to us in the next 30 days, we have no reason to meet next month,” Boldman said.
Saddler set the date for the next meeting as June 20 at 5:30 p.m., keeping it in line with the meetings being held on the third Wednesday of each month.
Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 232, or at email@example.com.