Following heavy spring rains the roof began collapsing on an older
portion, and it was deemed a hazard by city building inspector Les
Last. Last sent the railroad notices of options to repair or
demolish. He said during the meeting that he had not gotten any
response from them.
The structure, which has sat vacant for years, has a nostalgic
charm that intrigues with its brick and limestone exterior, classic
green roof, and rough-hewn timber dock.
Mayor Beth Davis said that the Lincoln Historic Society has
expressed interest in the building and wants to see that it is not
The building is on the National Registry of Historic Places,
according to Alderman Jonie Tibbs. Tibbs said that she hoped Rohlfs
would follow preservation guidelines that would enable the structure
to stay on the registry.
Rohlfs said that this is what his intentions are. He would try to
make repairs in keeping with preservation guidelines to keep it on
the registry, but he would also be bringing it into a usable state
as a warehouse of some sort.
Rohlfs said that he has been in correspondence with the railroad
since last February. They are neither quick nor easy to work with.
They've told him that if there have been any fines assessed on the
property (violations assessed by the city for not cleaning it up in
a timely manner) when he buys the property, he is responsible for
those fines, as well as all costs and fees associated with the sale.
He doesn't expect that the sale would go through quickly either,
probably taking a couple of months.
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He explained that he has committed his time to other things for now,
but that he would schedule himself do the work that would make it
safe as soon as he knew it would be his and his other work was
completed. That would be sometime in November.
His purpose in coming to the council was in a spirit of helpfulness
Some aldermen were still wondering what it was he
wanted from the council.
City attorney Bill Bates interjected that he thought Rohlfs
wanted some assurance if he buys the property. "He
probably just wants to keep me at bay," Bates said.
The owner of the old Mill Restaurant property was not able to
make satisfactory progress in making that property safe and was
recently taken to court and assessed fines.
Bates observed that in a situation like this it is in the city's
best interest to work with the property owner and bring the property
into compliance rather than to fight over it in court.
He forecast the future of working with the railroad as, "I'll
fight with the railroad, they'll ignore me and then they'll ignore
me some more, and then I'll sue them."
Rohlfs has been working with Last on what would need to be done
and said that he would first work to secure the building for safety
and cover interior walls to prevent further deterioration of the
inside before winter begins. There may be a fence put up also.
He committed to keep communicating with the city.