By Mayor Robin Oda
The never-ending tavern building saga in downtown Troy continues with yet another Common Pleas court-ordered continuance due to legal wrangling and stall tactics, including multiple depositions of officials which may continue through November and December. Troy citizens, businesses and visitors should know that the City of Troy is not happy with nor does it condone these delays. We remain powerless to bring this case to a close as long as motions and actions continue to be filed in court.
I am writing to correct a narrative that continues to be pushed by the Troy Historic Preservation Alliance (THPA).
For those who are unaware, the Miami County Chief Building Official (CBO), after consultation with his structural engineer, ordered the building demolished on June 16, 2023. That order (which falls within his legal authority under jurisdiction of the State of Ohio and the Ohio Revised Code) is based on the fact that the structure is unsafe and dangerous. In addition, our city’s Fire Chief (also acting within his legal authority per the State of Ohio and the State Fire Marshal) certified his agreement with the CBO’s evaluation and inspection of the building.
Based on the CBO’s order, the Director of Public Service & Safety ordered W. Main Street between Plum and Cherry Streets to be closed on June 24, 2023. I agreed with that decision because NOT doing so would have been irresponsible and reckless, putting the City and its taxpayers in a position of liability if there were to be a failure of the structure causing harm to vehicles and/or pedestrians. The road will not and cannot be opened until the building is declared safe by the CBO or demolished.
The Troy Historic Preservation Alliance continues to create its own narrative, and is not part of any productive solution that is fiscally responsible or even realistic. This group was hastily formed after the property owner filed for a demo permit in late 2020 and continue to engage in false narratives that are deliberately misleading and divisive.
The latest example of this is their selective misinterpretation of Troy Fire Chief Matt Simmons’ recent deposition, requested by the Evil Empire LLC and ordered by the Common Pleas Court (which served to only delay this case further than it has been already). The THPA remains “confused” as to the Fire Chief’s role in the demolition order and the closing of West Main Street. The State of Ohio gives demolition authority to the CBO and the closing of a street to the Director of Public Service and Safety. The Fire Chief’s only role in this case was to certify and agree with the CBO that the building is unsafe and that the property need not go through the Planning Commission approval process. Contrary to the THPA’s claims, his certification was not part of the City’s street closing decision.
The Troy Historic Preservation Alliance claims that the Fire Chief had certain procedures that he did not perform prior to co-signing the certification. The Fire Department does not issue citations for structural issues. Rather, the FD refers possible concerns to the CBO, who may issue adjudication orders. Staff does not take notes, measurements, or photographs in every inspection they conduct, especially when they rely on the Miami County Building Department and CBO for action. Had the THPA been honest in their “Breaking News” of October 26th, they would have also stated that the Fire Chief explained those facts in his deposition.
While the Troy Historic Preservation Alliance creates many posts and much commentary, they don’t seem to be committed to the whole story. Instead, the THPA attempts to confuse the public without sharing all of the facts surrounding the tavern building. There is little support left for preserving this building. Even the court’s expert witness agreed that it is not economically feasible to repair this building and that demolishing it and rebuilding new is the only way forward.
I remain committed to getting West Main Street opened ASAP when one of two things happen: the building is demolished, or the CBO declares the building safe and he rescinds his demolition order. Once either of these things happen, the City of Troy will be a proactive part of any solution that restores economic vibrancy to our downtown. Based on the history of this “travesty” (as a recent Letter to the Editor characterized this case), I doubt the Troy Historic Preservation Alliance and the Evil Empire LLC will make that same commitment.
The writer is the mayor of the city of Troy.