Village removes collapsed porch

Gwen Chamberlain

The porch that collapsed toward Jacob’s Creek on Clinton Street June 11 was  removed on Monday and village officials are hoping to reconnect utilities so Joanne DeBolt can move back into her home.

Penn Yan Village officials hired a contractor to demolish the damaged porch on the house owned by DeBolt at 112 Clinton St.

Monday afternoon, Assistant Director of Public Works Richard Osgood said it appeared there was no additional damage to the main portion of the house.

The porch collapsed toward Jacobs Creek after a retaining wall failed during heavy a rain storm on June 11.

That night village code enforcement officer Bruce Lyon posted a notice on the house that the property was dangerous and not inhabitable. DeBolt has been without a home since then while looking for ways to make repairs to the property.

On June 15, the village notified DeBolt that she had 10 days to remedy the situation that officials have been calling dangerous.

Lyon told the village board at an early morning meeting on June 26, “She has not done it and has indicated she has no way of doing it.”

The board agreed to hire TRT Masonry for $3500 to remove the porch and all the debris from the property.

Assistant Director of Public Works Richard Osgood said the rafters for the porch would have to be cut from a bucket truck in order to remove the porch. “I don’t want to put a person on that roof,” said Osgood.

After the porch was removed, the house was inspected again to determine if it is structurally sound.

“If we don’t act, or if somebody doesn’t act, it could fall off. There is any number of scenarios that could happen,” said Mayor Douglas Marchionda Jr. at Friday’s meeting.

Osgood observed and documented the work as its being done.

On Monday, after the porch had been removed, Osgood said the village now needs to work with DeBolt to prevent additional erosion in the area.

The total cost of the work,including the cost of work done by village crews,  will be charged to DeBolt. The village board members agreed they would negotiate a payment plan with DeBolt once the final cost is determined.

DeBolt says she isn’t able to pay for repairs.

In an interview on June 19, she said she felt the village had been negligent in the 1980s when the home’s basement was flooded. She and her husband did receive a settlement for $1100 then, but that would not cover the damage to the property.

She said the flooding was caused by village workers pushing water toward the creek with heavy equipment. She says that caused a sinkhole that eventually damaged the retaining wall. However, she could not provide evidence of the damage or communication with village officials.

Now, she’s unable to find help from some of the agencies and organizations that sometimes offer programs for such situations.

“They might as well take the house,” said DeBolt during that interview.

If DeBolt can’t pay for the work, the cost will be added to the village property taxes.

If the bill is still unpaid, it will be turned over to the county for collection with county taxes.

If the county taxes are not paid, the county could take ownership of the property.

In response to comments she’s heard in the community, Village Clerk Shawna Wilber noted, “There is never a chace the village would take ownership of the house.”