Mayor Clarifies Position on Downtown Building

Information reprinted with permission of the Courier Times, local newspaper New Castle, Indiana

Mayor clarifies position on downtown building

Posted: Wednesday, July 12, 2017 6:00 am

The New Castle Historic Preservation Committee dedicated half of Monday night’s meeting to the former Henry County Surveyor’s office on the southwest corner of 12th and Broad streets. 

Committee member Richard McKnight recently toured the building with city councilman Aaron Dicken. McKnight said the ceilings have fallen in on the top floor, and lathe and steel beams are visible.

The two-story brick building is mostly used to store county records these days.

“They won’t be able to use it for storage much longer if something’s not done,” McKnight said. “But I would not be for demolishing that building at all. We need to find a way to save the building.” 

Discussion about the building stemmed from a recent Henry County Solid Waste Management District (HCSWMD) board meeting in which New Castle Mayor Greg York suggested the county consider demolishing the building to make more courthouse parking available.

Tax records show that Integrity Land Management LLC, registered to local businessman Randy Neal, owns the two vacant properties between the county building and the HCSWMD building. Neal took down the buildings in 2014.

The now-empty lot allows storm water to enter the HCSWMD building, York said.

“I don’t know how much longer that east wall is going to last,” York told the historic preservation committee Monday.

Henry County Solid Waste Management District Director/Educator JoAnne McCorkle said there were no issues with the building when her organization originally bought it. The harsh 2013-2014 winter weather collapsed the roof of the buildings to the east, eventually leading to demolition.

Since the buildings came down, water tends to pool along the east wall and seep into the HCSWMD building.

“It’s like a flood every time it rains hard,” McCorkle said.

HCSWMD received a grant from the city redevelopment commission to help fix the roof, but water still comes in through the bottom of the building.

“It’s nobody’s fault necessarily,” McCorkle said. “That building was never supposed to have an exterior wall.”

McCorkle said the mayor was in her office as recently as Tuesday to make sure their sump pump was working to keep the basement dry.

York told the New Castle Historic Preservation Committee that he is working on plans to pave the empty lots between the solid waste management district office and the county building. The repairs would hopefully divert storm water toward the gutters and away from the neighboring buildings, the mayor said.

“It’s the very, very beginning of trying to save the [Henry County Solid Waste Management District] building,” York said.

The mayor said the Henry County Commissioners are responsible for any repairs to the old surveyor’s building. The city has no plans or authority to make changes to that corner, he said. 

“I’d hate for you guys to waste your time and put any money into that building,” York told the committee. “The city’s not going to put a penny into it.”

New Castle Historic Preservation Committee President Dave Nantz felt that the New Castle Historic Preservation Committee has a responsibility to do something about the building now that they are aware of its problems.

The committee voted to contact the Henry County Commissioners about possibly ordering a combined feasibility study of the county building and the waste management district building through Indiana Landmarks.