Crumbling Buildings A Safety Concern In Morrison - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

Crumbling Buildings A Safety Concern In Morrison

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Cities all over are dealing with crumbling buildings, some more than 100 years old. It's happening everywhere from Davenport and Rock Island to smaller towns like Morrison, IL. Local governments are getting stuck with the bill on old buildings, forced to spend tax dollars renovating or removing them. 

Back in 2009, the building at 101 Main Street in downtown Morrison collapsed, leaving an entire wall reduced to rubble in the middle of the street. The city bought it for a dollar, wanting to preserve the historic building, and spent nearly $300,000 getting the fallen wall back up. 

Now the city has tentatively approved selling it to Morrison trust for revitalization, for the price of two dollars. 

"It's kind of depressing to walk by them," a nearby business owner says, "It's just an eyesore, we have festivals and things in town and it's really embarrassing." 

The buildings are crumbling and loose bricks are falling onto the sidewalk below. After spending $300,000 city dollars to fix up these downtown buildings, there's still a long way to go before anyone can set foot inside. 

"The buildings have been constructed of brick and mortar, the concern is that the mortar has given way and the brick walls are beginning the separate from the foundations," City Administrator Jim Wise says. 

When the issue started in 2009, citizens fought between demoing the buildings or spending money to save them. The city chose to save them. 

"I don't believe that there was a full plan to bring this building back to a productive use," Resident Terry Wilkens says.  

Now the city sees other buildings that need work too, but they don't want to end up in the same situation again.  

"It happens everywhere, part of that problem is becoming aware of the situation and dealing with the property owners and absentee landowners," Wise says. 

Wise says the problems need to be fixed within three to five years to avoid a repeat of 2009, but with tight funds and no building inspector to pinpoint problem areas, that'll be tough to do. 

For now, the city can only push forward from here. 

"I think by now people understand that it was a sunk cost," Wilkens says, "I do hope that the lessons that were learned here can spare us from other communities from similar fates." 

"The city does not want to take an imposing position but we do want to make sure we can provide for the safety and welfare of the citizens," Wise says. 

The city manager tells us the city chose to save the buildings because demolition would've cost them the same amount. The city would've had to spend $300,000 building a new wall on the building next door since the buildings shared a wall.  

He hopes to bring up the issue of getting a full time building inspector for the city at the next city council meeting June 25th.