THPA addresses Troy Council over alleged agreement violations


By Kathleen Leese

For Miami Valley Today

TROY — Council chambers was packed at the Monday, March 19, Troy City Council meeting as council members heard from frustrated Troy Historic Preservation Alliance (THPA) President Ben Sutherly about a potential stop work order or demolition of the IOOF Building in downtown Troy over alleged settlement agreement violations.

Following the Pledge of Allegiance, led by Boy Scout Troop 5 from First United Church of Christ, Troy and an executive session that lasted over an hour to discuss legal issues, council heard from Sutherly who voiced concern over a letter sent by Kettering Attorney Thomas Schiff, who was hired by the city of Troy to challenge continuing work on the IOOF Building.

In the letter dated March 8, 2024, sent to Miami County Common Pleas Court Judge Stacy Wall, Schiff said he had recently been retained by the city of Troy regarding the matter.

Noting the settlement agreement reached between the city of Troy and THPA on Dec. 22, 2023, Schiff said in his letter, “Some of those conditions and deadlines (in the agreement) may have been violated or missed and the city has to date, in the interest of bringing this matter to resolution, looked the other way.”

Schiff noted there was a deadline of March 1, 2024, for THPA to provide the city of Troy with “written proof it has sufficient funds necessary” to stabilize the 1841 Building. Those costs to THPA were listed at $750,000.

Schiff argued, “it is the city’s position … the contractor did not include all required estimated costs associated with the building.”

The costs include window work, third party testing, permit fees and other expenses. Schiff wrote while THPA told council members at the March 4, 2024, meeting it had “come close” to reaching the goal of $750,000 in funds, the city believes, “THPA has failed to meet the ‘sufficient funds’ threshold. As a result, the city’s position is that THPA is in default on this agreement.”

The city of Troy is now requesting the court to consider several remedies including an injunction ordering 1841 (the IOOF Building) stabilization work to stop, an order that would direct the city building director or the fire chief to issue a stop work order on any further stabilization of the building, an order to rescind all building permits related to stabilization work on the building and an order (directing) the THPA to demolish the building by March 31, or other remedies deemed appropriate.

The city has asked Wall to schedule a telephone conference regarding the matter.

Sutherly addressed council in a lengthy statement, with the crowd bursting into applause several times during his statement.

“We are tremendously proud of the progress that Level MB and their subcontractors has made on this project, despite barriers being thrown in their path,” he said. Allegedly among those barriers were “signed and sealed drawings for the scaffolding, an unprecedented requirement in Miami County.”

Sutherly addressed his fundraising concerns.

“To date, we have raised more than $777,000 in donations toward the stabilization repairs of the IOOF/old Miami County Courthouse,” Sutherly said, noting they have obtained a $50,000 loan to cover additional incidental costs, including a load test if it becomes clear that is necessary. “That’s a total of $827,000, more than enough to complete stabilization repairs to both buildings and pay for related costs.”

Sutherly added THPA only has to collect another $23,000 to cover costs. He pointed out that no public tax dollars are being used for the project.

Sutherly also addressed Patrick Titterington, director of public service and safety for the city of Troy, “Mr. Titterington continues to throw wet blanket after wet blanket on our efforts.

“Mr. Titterington chooses to spend taxpayer dollars on outside legal counsel to ‘tattle’ on THPA to the judge. In a March 8 letter, the city made baseless claims that THPA has violated the settlement agreement and actually asked the judge to consider several draconian options, including a stop work order on the old courthouse building and ordering THPA to demolish the old courthouse,” he said.

Sutherly asked why the city did not make clear that it wanted documentation that THPA had sufficient funding for the list of required repairs.

“Why is city hall being so punitive? It is yet another unnecessary distraction that is costing taxpayers and is intended to disrupt progress on the building,” he said.

“The Miami County building department put in place a condition requiring a load test. This is an unprecedented step for Miami County to take. It is also a violation of the settlement agreement. A load test was never discussed during negotiations,” Sutherly said.

He concluded by questioning how it will reflect on City Council and on the mayor “if Mr. Titterington is allowed to try to sabotage $1.3 million in investment in our downtown, potentially causing delays in reopening West Main Street and significantly diminishing our downtown’s charm?”

Jeremy Tomb, the attorney representing THPA, responded to Schiff in a letter provided to Miami Valley Today, stating in part, “carrying on the animosity that the city of Troy staff and Miami County building officials have previously demonstrated is completely adverse to the best interests of the city of Troy, Miami County, and contrary to an agreement that, until now, THPA and the community felt was negotiated in good faith … your clients’ efforts to stymie these efforts will not be accepted.”

City Council adjourned without responding to Sutherly.

The council was not able to take action on other agenda items including a temporary expansion of DORA boundaries for Treasure Island concerts, as well as the Broadford Bridge rehabilitation due to the absence of the following three Council members: William C. Twiss, Samuel J. Pierce, and Lynne B. Snee.

Troy City Council’s next meeting is set for Monday, April 1.

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