Council gives mayor emergency powers


In a special meeting on Friday, the Vandalia City Council gave the mayor the authority to deal with damage to three downtown buildings.

In a 7-0 vote, the council approved an ordinance that grants the mayor “extraordinary power and authority during a state of emergency.”

The ordinance gives that power to the mayor in all future emergencies, but specifically pertains to an emergency situation on Gallatin.

Mayor Rick Gottman will have the power to proceed with any action on three damaged buildings in the 500 block of West Gallatin Street.

The council’s action came three days after the roof collapsed on buildings at 503 and 507 W. Gallatin Street early Tuesday morning.

While the action allows the mayor to select a firm to take down the three buildings, it also gives him the option of asking for the opinion of a second structural engineer, as requested by Kyle Barker, a local resident interested in historical preservation.

A structural engineer offered the opinion on Tuesday afternoon that the buildings should be demolished, based on structural problems.

The collapse came several months after the parking lanes next to 501 W. Gallatin St. were cordoned off due to structural concerns with that building.

Gottman said he is concerned that a strong storm could cause the buildings to come down, and several aldermen also noted that passing trains could also cause a collapse.

 Gottman reported on Saturday that CSX railroad agreed on Friday night to slow trains through Vandalia. 

The ordinance approved on Friday gives Gottman the power to act in the emergency situation through Monday, Aug. 17, the date of the next council meeting.

City Attorney Jack Johnston added that if there is no resolution by that date, the authority could be extended.

Gottman said at the meeting that three firms have expressed an interest in taking down the buildings, and that a fourth was present for the meeting.

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