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Further building instability closes North Ellsworth

SALEM – Fire Chief Scott Mason ordered the closing of North Ellsworth Avenue between State Street and Second Street on Monday due to concerns over the stability of the EuroGyro building after being told “there’s definitely evidence of outward bowing now on the east wall.”

That takes out a major artery in downtown Salem with no timetable for reopening as engineers and EuroGyro owner George Istocki, who owns the building, decide the best option for stabilization.

Last week, Mason said he had talked with Ohlin & Reed Consulting Engineer Inc., the firm hired by Istocki, about the status of the building and was told plans for the stabilization had been approved by the state of Ohio and work was slated to begin possibly this week, but on Monday, he spoke to a representative of Prugar Consulting, an engineering firm hired by Istocki’s insurance company.

Engineers from both Prugar and Ohlin & Reed agreed Monday that the street and sidewalk on the east side of the building should be closed, leading to the barricades going up on Ellsworth. State Street between Ellsworth and Howard has already been closed since Nov. 15 after an engineer hired by the city found issues with the structure. The restaurant was closed on Nov. 14 and two apartments on the second floor vacated by the fire department, then the road was closed the next day.

According to a report from Prugar dated Monday based on an on-site inspection of the building on Friday, “Our examination of the building

disclosed that the roof framing over the third floor exhibits severe dropping, sagging, shifting and the exterior brick walls exhibit severe outward leaning.”

“Due to the severity of the dropping, sagging, shifting and outward leaning of the roof framing and the outward leaning of the exterior walls, it is our professional opinion that the roof framing and the exterior walls are in imminent damage of failure and collapse. We highly recommend that the roof framing and the exterior brick walls be adequately shored and stabilized immediately and that the demolition, permanent repair and/or rebuilding of the roof and exterior walls begin immediately,” the report signed by Scott Osowski and Jerome Prugar said.

Mason said he asked a representative from Prugar if it was safe for anyone to be in the building to stabilize it and he said he was told it wasn’t safe to be in the building “walking around gingerly let alone being inside trying to manipulate things and work on the structure.”

Mason also spoke to the engineer from Ohlin & Reed who said they were giving the contractor some guidelines for stabilization to try to make it as safe as possible, including limiting time inside, but that it would be inside. Mason said Istocki was going to call him today with details.

“It’s either going to be stabilized or torn down at this point,” Mason said.

Previously, the east wall was thought to be stable. The south and west walls were more likely to fail, he said, but now the east wall appears problematic.

“We’re going off the recommendations of the engineers,” Mason said regarding the road, sidewalk and parking lot closings. “The longer it goes, the worse that building’s going to get.”

For anyone going into the building, “I would say they’re entering at their own risk,” he said.

Mayor John Berlin said the additional road closing is going to be an inconvenience, especially for anybody working on the south end of town coming through there. He said it’s a very important artery.

Traffic can still turn south from State Street onto South Ellsworth and turn east from South Ellsworth onto State, but that’s it at the intersection. Trucks are being rerouted along Pershing Street and for any trucks traveling straight through town, the bypass is recommended.

“The sooner it’s opened back up, the better it will be for everyone,” Berlin said.

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