Historical group to comment on Goncho building

By David Hotle, The JOURNAL


The Washington Historic Preservation Commission is expected to give its recommendation on the proposed demolitions of the former Goncho Apartment building during the Washington City Council meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the Washington Public Library.

While the commission discussed the proposal during its Dec. 18 meeting, no action was taken due to the legal requirement of a 14-day notice needing to be posted on the building. Washington City Administrator Brent Hinson said the committee is expected to discuss the issue at its Monday meeting to make the recommendation.

?They have already discussed it twice at meetings,? Hinson said.

He said if the commission recommends against it, the council may table discussion of setting a public hearing for the demolition, which is later on the agenda. He said members of the commission would be at the meeting. People wishing to make comment on the demolition will have the opportunity during the public comment section of either commission meetings or Washington City Council meetings.

Hinson said owners Andy Drahota and Dave Waite had requested the demolition permit to make way for a redevelopment project. He said the plan is to construct six 2-story town house units with about 1,600 square feet each and garages.

Goncho has been unoccupied since the building was ruled unsafe and the tenants were required to move out in January 2013. A meth lab had been discovered in one of the rooms. The building had also been inspected and a list of safety items had been given to the owner.

Tuesday?s agenda also includes several presentations. Hinson said that there are several items related to the emerald ash borer management plan. During the Aug. 15, 2017 meeting, the Washington City Council approved the tentative plan to remove 242 ash trees from city property as a response to reports of emerald ash borers in the area, and also to raise funding devoted to the task from $56,000 to $106,000 this year. A large amount of the money would be to purchase a used bucket truck at a cost of about $25,000; a grapple bucket for the end loader at a cost of about $10,000; and $5,000 for additional and larger chain saws and safety equipment. Discussion was also given to the city purchasing a stump grinder.

After the discovery of Emerald ash borers in Washington County, the pest is expected to kill all the ash trees in Washington over the next five years. He said that because of the nature of Emerald ash borer (EAB) infestations, based on the results from other states, all ash trees in town would be infested. Dahl stressed it is better for the city to remove the trees steadily as they become infested instead of waiting five years and trying to remove all the trees at once. The committee has been exploring options.

An EAB is a beetle and is metallic green, only about 1-1/2 inches long, making it difficult to recognize in the landscape. The larvae stage of the wood-boring insect tunnels under the bark of ash trees, disrupting the flow of water and nutrients, ultimately causing the tree to die.

Over the next five years, Hinson said the city?s push to remove the infestation was probably about ?a $200,000 problem.? He also said the money would come from the city?s general fund and there was really no way for the city to gain any of that money back.