SALEM - The Salem Grande Parade set for 6 p.m. Saturday has been rerouted away from the crumbling TanFastic building on East State Street after city officials became aware of another safety issue with the structure Tuesday.
A firewall that separated the Tanfastic building from the former bank/Butler museum building when it had a third story appears to be separating from the TanFastic building where there's now an exterior wall, causing the city to take immediate measures to try to protect the public.
Mayor John Berlin said the section of sidewalk and the parking spaces in front of the building and part of the former museum building have been closed as a precaution for now. The scaffolding also remains in place. State Street remains open to traffic.
Service/Safety Director Ken Kenst received a call from someone in a building across the street from the TanFastic building who pointed out the crack which goes from the top of the building down to the top of the second story.
Berlin said the fire department inspectors looked at the situation and recommended the city close the street or close the sidewalk.
The mayor signed an agreement with an engineering firm known as Shawco owned by Matthew Shaw for 30 hours at a rate of $80 per hour to evaluate the problem and he told the mayor it's likely they'll have to strap the building from one side to the face to keep the bricks in place.
This morning the mayor planned to meeting with another engineering company with a facade engineer to advise the city on what needs done.
"We're stepping in because the property owner isn't," Berlin said.
He said he didn't think this meant the building was going to fall down, but the wall is a problem.
"I want to get rid of the safety issue," he said.
He already had a meeting set up with Salem Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Audrey Null on Wednesday morning about chamber business and the parade was brought up. The route was supposed to travel on East State Street right past the building.
Due to the unsafe condition of the building, the chamber, Berlin and Kenst agreed the parade should be rerouted. The parade still kicks off on East State Street at North Union Avenue and travels west, but now the parade will turn right onto North Lincoln Avenue and travel north, then turn left on East Second Street and travel west, still disbanding at the plaza on Second Street off of Ellsworth Avenue.
Several years ago the city ordered the owners of the TanFastic building to make repairs or tear it down and ended up taking them to court. The court case remains pending, with a hearing set for Sept. 18. There had been an announcement previously of a possible settlement, but Berlin said others had proposed purchasing the building and other buildings near it, but backed out.
He said taking care of the building appears to be back in the lap of the city and its taxpayers.
Representatives of the Ohio Department of Transportation are coming to Salem to assess the traffic light poles, which is another problem the city had been dealing with after one fell down and they ended up replacing a few more due to safety concerns. Berlin's also planning to talk with them about the TanFastic building.
Berlin said ODOT needs to be involved in anything related to the building that could affect State Street since it's a state route.
"If we have to close the street for repairs or demolition, we want their input," he said.
As for demolition of the building, he said a lot will depend on what happens with the court case. The city does not own the building, but it's likely the city will have to take care of it with taxpayer money.
"I don't see it happening on its own," he said.