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January 08. 2013 10:23PM

Plan to fill unsafe basement eyed in Nashua

NASHUA - Since fire damaged a building on Ferry Road more than five years ago, the site has become an eyesore, with city officials now fearing it has become a safety issue as well.

Aldermen Tuesday night were presented a proposal that would require the owner of 1 Ferry Road to fill the exposed basement of the damaged building.

"The exposed basement is approximately 10 to 12 feet deep, and any person who fell into the basement would likely suffer severe injuries or death," a letter written by Kyle Metcalf, the city's code enforcement officer, says. "The uncovered and unprotected basement presents an immediate threat to the health and safety of the general public."

Fire destroyed the building in November 2007 and the owner demolished what remained. After the building was razed, owner Navin Patel, of Waltham, Mass., enclosed the property with a faulty fence, according to Metcalf's memo to aldermen.

Metcalf reported the fence was poorly made and did not prevent individuals from entering the property and accessing the uncovered basement.

Following notice of violation, Metcalf reported, Patel erected a new fence that also was improperly installed and eventually collapsed in several places. Officials from the city's Code Enforcement Office have repeatedly sent correspondence to Patel addressing the issue, and according to Metcalf, the property owner has ignored phone calls and letters.

Elected officials must decide whether mandating Patel fill the foundation is appropriate, as the city's legal counsel agrees that the exposed basement is a hazard.

Stephen Bennett, deputy corporation counsel, said state statutes allow cities and towns to order exposed excavations be filled or protected if a foundation is left open for more than six months.

"Should (Patel) fail to promptly respond to the order, the city will fill in the foundation and place a lien against (his) property as permitted by law," according to Bennett's opinion. "All costs associated with the city's actions will be assessed against (Patel's) property.

The proposal has been forwarded to the aldermanic Personnel and Administrative Affairs Committee for further review and a vote.

Aldermen also approved a $57,348 contract with FairPoint Communications of Portland, Maine, which is intended to speed up the city's website.

The contract - prompted after a near crash of the municipal website - will increase the city's bandwidth from 1.5 megabits per second to 50 megabits.

Also on Tuesday, the board approved funding of $1,990 for the upcoming special election to replace the vacant state representative seat left by Stacie Laughton in Ward 4.

The funds are being transferred from the city's general contingency account into the city clerk's general fund operating budget to cover the expenses of the election, slated for Feb. 19 against Democrat Pam Brown and Republican Elizabeth VanTwuyver.


khoughton@newstote.com


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