City making progress on Downtown Wall

The project to replace a city-owned brick wall that has been connected for nearly 40 years to a private Downtown Waynesboro commercial building might be getting a jumpstart.
City manager Mike Hamp told Waynesboro City Council at its monthly work session Wednesday night that he should be prepared to make a recommendation regarding what to do with the wall at the council’s next business meeting next week.

“I have a number for a full brick replacement of the existing wall. We’ve asked for a more affordable option – alternative to brick – to look at as well,” Hamp said.

The wall was slated to come down last spring when it was decided by the city that cracks that had begun to manifest in the structure were an indication of potential near-term danger to the building at 329 W. Main St. that it has been attached to since the early 1970s. Work began and ended quickly when city crews determined that there were also issues with the roof of the 329 West Main building that have since been dealt with by the building’s owner, Bruce and Constance Paradiso. Work on the wall project has not gotten back going again, though, as the city has dawdled on what to do with respect to the appearance of the area that sits next to a downtown pedestrian mall.

City Councilwoman Nancy Dowdy raised a concern about the amount of money that the city might be thinking about committing to the project at Wednesday’s work session. “I would like to know what all the options are,” Dowdy saiid. “I don’t favor spending a large amount of taxpayers’ money on an aesthetic wall for a private property. I don’t care who the property owner is. I have reservations about our responsibility in that area when so many other things in this city need to be addressed.”

Hamp said he would present an array of options to council members when offering his recommendation.

“We can move form the presumably most expensive option of putting brick back to presumably the least expensive option – and I say this with all due respect and regard and acknowledgement of the investment the Paradisos have made – we could take the wall down and say, We’re sorry that this has ended this way, but we’re not putting anything back. Now, I think making a recommendation of that nature is bold, and I think risky, because I would be concerned as a city manager how that really acknowledged the investment that they’ve made. And I don’t know that you could ever get to a place where you felt good about saying that,” Hamp said.

 

– Chris Graham

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