City cleaning up abated property near depot

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 21, 2017

Contractors hired by the city have almost completed clean up work and repairs to properties owned by John Tisdale and Tisdale Family Properties after the landowners failed to comply with terms of a settlement negotiated in U.S. District Court in December, members of the Andalusia City Council learned during their meeting Tuesday night.

Andy Wiggins, director of planning, said, “If you’ve driven by there, you see a lot of work has been done over the last couple of weeks. We’ve cleaned up the east side (of the property), and are moving west toward the depot.”

The process began in late 2015, when the city began the process of abating a number of downtown properties that were in disrepair. An abatement is a legal action similar to a condemnation.

Tisdale and his wife, Jennifer Tisdale, challenged the process in federal court. The suit was resolved in December in a mediation settlement which set out specific deadlines for the issues in the abatements to be corrected. The case concerned abatements at:

  • 223 South Cotton St.,
  • A lot on South Cotton St. adjoining the train depot property;
  • 254 Historic Central Street; and
  • 201 S. Three Notch St.

After the settlement was negotiated, Wiggins said, structures located at 254 Historic Central Street, and structures adjacent to it, were demolished. The city has been cleaning up what remained at 254 Central Street, which was in abatement.

“There was a tremendous amount of pieces of buildings left, and some of it was under the ground,” Wiggins said. “We found things that we didn’t know were out there.”

Wiggins said debris removal should be completed within a couple of days.

“The next thing will be to put fencing around the rail cars, which is part of the settlement agreement we came to in December,” Wiggins said.

In the original proceedings, the council declared the rail cars “attractive nuisances,” meaning that without fencing, the antique cars could attract the attention of children who might be hurt while playing on them.

Wiggins said the city hired an engineer to inspect the depot and the adjacent freight house.

“There are still a few things on the freight house have to be done based on the engineer’s report, which he should have to us by the end of the week.”

Wiggins said the city also is repairing a drainage ditch on the property.

“These guys have done a great job, staying on top of it, in accordance with way all agreed to.

Work also is being done at 223 South Cotton St., Wiggins said, and property commonly referred to as the “old opera house.”

“We’re finishing up some of the things he did not do,” Wiggins said. “We finished some painting, and took some cornice work down around the top of building. It was aluminum formed, which is a really good thing, based on the deterioration of the wood holding it up, which was in really bad shape.

“The cornices are being reworked, and will go back up there,” Wiggins said.

The negotiated settlement reached with a mediator in federal court gave the property owners until July 1, 2017, to complete work identified in the agreement. If the work was not done by then, the city had until Oct. 1, 2017, to complete the work.

Tisdale declined comment on Wednesday, referring questions to his attorney, Chris Sanspree of Montgomery.