North Judson Council Hires Engineering Firm to Evaluate 205 and 207 Lane Street

North Judson officials hope to move forward soon with the demolition of a downtown building. Pulaski Circuit Judge Michael Shurn approved an emergency demolition order Monday morning, allowing the town to tear down the structure at 205 and 207 Lane Street without having to go through a bid process. But before that can happen, Shurn also asked that a structural engineering report be completed, to determine whether Doug Cassel can safely remove several pieces of his personal property.

The town council voted Monday evening to hire DLZ Engineering to put together that report for a cost of $700. Town Attorney Justin Schramm said the town may eventually be able to recoup that cost from Cassel.

Once the engineering report is complete, the town has 24 hours to notify Cassel’s attorney of the result. If it’s deemed safe, he has 14 days to remove his stuff. Otherwise, the town can hire a contractor and proceed with demolition.

Council members also authorized Town Superintendent Marshall Horstmann to choose a contractor for a pre-demolition survey to look for hazardous materials like asbestos on the property. Horstmann told council members he already called one company but hadn’t heard back as of Monday night’s meeting. He said there were two more that he planned to contact Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the area around the building has been blocked off and “no trespassing” signs have been posted since a portion of the structure collapsed last Thursday. Clerk-Treasurer Alicia Collins emphasized that the structure is extremely dangerous. “Thursday night, there were seven junior high kids coming out of the back of the building at 8:15, and I called [Officer] Rico [Simpson] to come help me get these guys out of there,” Collins said. “There was an adult there that was probably 40 with a five-year-old. I mean, they were climbing in and out of the building. We have to keep people out of there because it is not safe. So if you see anybody, call the police department, for sure.”

The goal is to have the building removed in time for next month’s Mint Festival. If not, town officials plan to put additional fencing around the structure. Speaking on behalf of Mint Festival organizers, Donna Henry thanked council members and the town attorney for their efforts in demolishing the building in a timely manner.