Engineer hired to redesign wall
The city of Eudora inched closer to concluding the Main Street wall dispute with the hiring of Lawrence-based Grob Engineering to improve the condition of the slumping retaining wall, which sits barricaded between 706 and 714 Main Street.
It is owned by two different entities: Darrel Keim, Lawrence, and the Denton family of Lawrence, who have the rights to it as the result of a trust.
The city will charge both parties for the repairs.
The move is one of many made to resolve the long-standing dispute between the city, Keim and the Denton’s.
City officials decided to improve the wall in 2001 for the CPA parade. In 2006, engineers became concerned that a heavy rain could cause the wall to further push out and collapse onto the sidewalk. It then was barricaded, deemed a dangerous building and notices of safety code and zoning violations were sent to the owners.
Keim went to the Eudora Board of Zoning Appeals and claimed the wall was city property since it had made improvements to the wall. The board disagreed and he took the issue to court.
Kansas District Court Judge Stephen Six then issued a memorandum June 1 of last year upholding the board of zoning appeals’ decision.
The council formally condemned the wall April 31.
Then in August, Eudora City Council members unanimously approved a resolution declaring the retaining wall unsafe and dangerous after a public hearing.
The resolution directed the owners of the wall to repair the structure and make it secure within 30 days. If the owners failed to do so, the city would condemn the wall, make repairs and charge the owners.
Keim has not been available for comment and a representative of the Denton family said that since the city originally made improvements to the wall, its state of disrepair is not the responsibility of either owner.
In the event that one of the parties do not pay for the repairs, the city would have rights to that owner’s half of the wall
“Basically, the city had tried everything they could try to get the Keims and the Dentons actively involved in getting that wall fixed,” City Administrator Cheryl Beatty said. “Since they had not taken any action to work with the city, it has gotten to the point where we’re renovating the downtown now and we’re still dealing with the wall. The council has been forced to deal with it this way.”
Beatty said the problem originally was over the appearance of the wall, but safety soon became a bigger concern.
While Beatty wished procedures to fix the wall could have been dealt with in a more peaceful and expedited manner, she is glad to be making progress.
“It’s unfortunate that we had to go through the process, but it’s always good to get another problem resolved, in particular since the downtown project will be finished soon and we’ll be encouraging all property owners to do their part and make things look good,” Beatty said.