Athens City Wants To Demolish Vacant Home In Front Of Community Center

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An ordinance has been introduced by Athens City Council that would allow the city to demolish a vacant home in front of the Athens Community Center on East State Street.

According to Andrew Chiki, assistant director of the city’s Arts, Parks and Recreation Department, the city-owned house used to serve as a home for the city’s former groundskeeper, Monty Goodfellow.

“A lot of people in the city call it Monty’s old house,” Chiki said. He said that prior to Goodfellow’s retirement, the city provided the home to him as part of his employment, as he was on call 24/7 to take care of the city’s grounds. Chiki said the house also served as temporary housing for a few families from New Orleans who were displaced following Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

In 2009, the city leased the house to the Ohio Valley Museum of Discovery, however in 2010 the group realized that it would be too costly to renovate the house to bring it up to code, such as making it handicap accessible. The children’s museum is now located inside The Market on State.

According to Chiki, the pipes in the second-floor bathroom froze and burst last winter, causing significant water damage to the vacant house. He said the city administration realized it would be more cost-effective to demolish the home than to repair the damage.

The house is located at 667 E. State St. near the GoBus stop in the parking lot of the Athens Community Center.

Chiki said there are no definite plans for the site once the house is demolished, but noted that in his opinion it would be a good location for a GoBus ticket office. GoBus tickets are currently sold inside the community center.

The ordinance to move forward with demolition was introduced on Monday and will go through three readings. On Monday, Mayor Paul Wiehl said there is no set demolition date yet. The city will also be working with Habitat for Humanity of Southeast Ohio’s ReStore to remove any usable materials from the house prior to demolition.

Athens Service-Safety Director Paula Horan Moseley said she has requested a total of $20,000 for the demolition and related costs for infrastructure changes, such as a new waterline to the city's lands and buildings garage and new landscaping.

Councilwoman Chris Fahl emphasized that she wanted to see the large pecan tree near the house saved, as it is the largest tree on East State Street. The administration assured her that the tree would remain at the site.