No sign of opening soon: City officials dealing with continued closure of streets following fireThe Jamestown Public Works Committee heard a tale of frustration from officials regarding the street closings at 305 First Ave. N. during its regular meeting Thursday.
By: Keith Norman, The Jamestown Sun
The Jamestown Public Works Committee heard a tale of frustration from officials regarding the street closings at 305 First Ave. N. during its regular meeting Thursday.
The southbound lane of the 300 block of First Avenue North and an adjacent block of Second Street Southwest have been closed since a fire on Feb. 17 destroyed one building and damaged another.
“We can’t get access to the structural engineer’s report on the Elks building,” said Reed Schwartzkopf, city engineer. “Not knowing the structural integrity of that building, we have chosen to keep the lanes closed.”
Schwartzkopf said the two insurance companies involved have not been cooperative.
“They don’t seem to play well together,” he said.
The building owned by Vining Oil was destroyed in the fire. Plans are in place to tear down existing walls in the next weeks pending approval of some permits, said Jim Reuther, Jamestown fire chief.
The Elks building’s status still remains with the insurance company that insured the structure.
“I’ve sent them some of what I call nasty-grams,” Schwartzkopf said. “We have a high frustration level with this but we can’t bring any leverage to bear on them. The state insurance commissioner is about the only one that could bring any leverage to the situation.”
Schwartzkopf said a wide safety area around the Elks building is required because of the structure’s height.
“To be very blunt, the chances are low the building could come down but I can’t say with all certainty it won’t,” he said.
Another option would be to convert the two lanes of northbound traffic on First Avenue to a single lane in each direction. This would require the North Dakota Department of Transportation’s approval, which would likely have problems with the arrangement because of the truck traffic the road carries.
In other business, the committee also directed the engineer’s office to proceed with determining a preliminary plan and costs for sidewalks to connect the bottom of Mill Hill with First Avenue. This would include sidewalks along the west side of the street in the area of the Two Rivers Inn, Dairy Queen and Country Gardens.
“This is an area of pedestrian safety and a frustration for everyone,” said Katie Andersen, Jamestown mayor.
Currently a sidewalk exists down Mill Hill but does not connect with the sidewalks in the downtown area.
The committee also set June 4 through 9 as public Clean-Up Week in Jamestown.
Schwartzkopf said the week offered the best options for manpower and equipment availability for the project. He anticipates the regulations regarding the week will be the same as last year.
Sun reporter Keith Norman can be reached at 701-952-8452 or by email at email@example.com