Crowd packs meeting to oppose demolition of downtown Troy’s historic Tavern building

Council president Lutz, mayor Oda take shots at each other over city process

People packed Troy Council Chambers on Monday with pleas for council to help save a historic district building

Council President William “Bill” Lutz said that Monday was the first time city administrators had asked the council to take any action related to or provide guidance on 112-118 W. Main St. since a tornado struck downtown in January 2020.

The structure with parts dating to the 1840s is known as the Tavern and the IOOF building.

A crowd of up to 100 people filled the chambers and hallway as council first met in an hour-long executive session. It was discussing proposals to join an appeal of a court ruling that overturned approval of a demolition permit for 112-118 W. Main St.

In the end, council Monday did not have enough votes to take action. The resolutions will be placed on the next agenda for second reading and vote.

The crowd included downtown-area residents and local historic organization members, such as the Troy Historic Preservation Alliance.

At the heart of the discussions was the building at 112-118 W. Main St., where the sidewalk and parking spaces along Main Street have been blocked for safety.

The building owner, 116 W. Main St. LLC, last week appealed to Ohio’s 2nd District Court of Appeals the decision overturning the city board’s vote to allow demolition.

A series of speakers from the local preservation alliance made remarks to council including an offer by local mason Scott McMiller to repair the building at no cost to the owners so the sidewalk can be reopened.

“THPA is willing to explore other ways to contribute to this project as well. But, in return for this very generous offer, we need the property owner to commit to restoration of this property instead of demolition,” said Chris Manning, THPA member.

Building owner Randy Kimmel was at the meeting but did not comment publicly.

Other speakers criticized the city’s handling of the building damage and its future.

“Every day that building sits unrepaired represents a collective failure of leadership – and a collective failure of imagination,” said Loraine Wyatt, a downtown resident and THPA member.

Lutz said he wanted it clear that city council was not responsible for “our city’s continual inability to open up a heavily used public sidewalk and seven badly needed parking spaces” on West Main Street.

He asked why Mayor Robin Oda and Patrick Titterington, city service and safety director, were now asking council to take steps toward demolition.

“Those individuals that have the responsibility of running this community on a day-to-day basis have again failed to clearly communicate any strategy to our elected council members of this community and have placed the city council in a precarious position,” Lutz said.

Oda fired back late Tuesday afternoon with a long statement in which she said Lutz’s leadership was lacking. Lutz has announced he is running for mayor against Oda in 2023. Both are Republicans.

“It is one thing to be bullied by a group of people who don’t like the policies/procedures and legal guidance that are in place,” Oda said. “It is quite another to be bullied by an elected official, a self-professed leader, who purports to know the policies and procedures of his elected position and those of the city, then chooses to flagrantly violate those by using the podium of his elected position to verbally attack the city director and me for following those policies, procedures and legal advice. To do so shows utter disregard, complete lack of understanding and respect for his position and that of myself and the city director.”

Oda said the city’s discussion and proposed legislation was about whether to continue defending the zoning board in ongoing litigation.

“To imply that it is the city’s fault or reckless to continue defending the city’s interests is nothing short of self-serving and dishonest at this time,” Oda said.

Lutz pointed out that council, at its initiative, in recent months looked at the zoning code and made changes in demolition requirements for historically significant structures.

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