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Saturday, April 11, 2015

Roofing Buildings Tumbing Down -- The Martings "Portsmouth Town Center"

It's time for a Martings update once again. Or, should I be politically correct and use the official euphemism for the property, the Portsmouth Town Center? Well, anyway, the property owned by the taxpayers of our fair city has a leaking roof, and now raindrops are falling on heads in adjacent businesses.

City Manager Allen proposes a temporary repair to correct the leak to the tune of $5,500 coming from the Capital Improvement Program (Although some surely must question any repair to the property being a justified capital "improvement.").

Not a great sum you say? But who can guarantee that such disrepair is not the sign of much more expense to come? Remember also that the city wants to pass an income tax increase in November, which begs the questions: "What can we and what should we pay to insure better expenditures?"

It is reported that fixing the leaking roof is the result of a call to the city from Ken Rase in regards to the roof at the Marting’s building that is leaking into the adjoining Capital One Bank building owned by Rase. Allen said, upon inspection it is noted that the roof is currently in need of repair. He said the Engineering Department has obtained a proposal from Freeland Contracting.

(Frank Lewis. "City manager adjusts CIP." Portsmouth Daily Times. April 10, 2015)

I assume this is the local company for Freeland home improvement from Minford, Ohio. But, according to the BBB, this company "appears to be out of business"? Buildzoom.com shows but one building permit issued to the company from December 2000 in Columbus, Ohio.

Also, I don't believe this figure of $5,500 includes submitting plans for the repair and obtaining the strictly required building contract from the City Engineer's office. I've no idea how much expense this will add to the project. Also, no mention of liability for the leak onto the bank property is reported. I assume the city carries insurance on the Martings Town Center edifice. Deductible? Law suit? Oh, boy!

Although I knew of their very close proximity, I was unaware Capital One and Martings shared a roof. What further damages could occur to the bank considering the decaying condition of the city owned monument to neglected real estate? I assumer the roof is flat -- and we all know that is a recipe for continuing leaks and damage to both structures.

This entire scenario reminds me of the large fallen tree that has been sitting on the property at Kinney's Lane and Scioto Trail for so long. I noted just yesterday that the ugly eyesore still sits unattended. I have no idea who owns the property and the insurance that should be paying to clean up the mess, so I don't know who should be responsible for the cleanup, but just a hundred or so feet away is the signage adorned with the corporate clubs and associations proudly represented in Portsmouth. The irony is apparent. The fallen down and in need of repair is duly noted.

My disgust over the Martings ... Town Center ... stems from the fact that we citizens of Portsmouth own this property and realize much, much more money is needed to maintain and/or to utilize the buildings. And, for City Council to say they didn't know this from the very start when they acquired the property for an inflated sum would be lying. Boondoggles have long longevity.

Waste has to stop some time. Nostalgia for old, thriving department stores is a beautiful thing, but nonetheless, such revelry is a figment conjured in fantasy aided by aging imaginations. If old bricks and mortar meant continued progress, Portsmouth would likely be the gem of Northern Appalachia.

Here is a thought: If the image of a vacant lot in the middle of downtown Portsmouth frightens us, then perhaps the reason for our fear is our own neglect for mismanagement and lack of action. The hole a demolished property would make on Chillicothe Street may be a physical reality of a hole that already exists in our old hearts. Our Dreamland and our Martings Department Store and our New Frontier are all but fading memories. Perhaps we should stop grieving, stop attempting repairs, and pursue a brand-new, promising reality with new construction being the key to better lasting ideas.

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