Old creamery’s owner says city singling out property
Saying he is a victim of selective enforcement, the owner of the old creamery on Tonganoxie Drive said he would attend the next Tonganoxie City Council meeting to fight the possible condemnation of the building.
“The city needs to keep their nose in their own business,” Pete Depetre said. “I know they want me to tear it down, but I want to do something with it in the next couple of weeks.”
Depetre, who has owned what was once the Franklin Ice Cream Co at 1000 East First Street for about a year and a half, said he first learned of the condemnation hearing from an acquaintance who read about the hearing in the May 25 edition of The Mirror. He said he never saw notification the city sent to his Tonganoxie address in March, giving him 45 days to address concerns about the building’s exterior conditions.
The city council voted on May 23 to schedule a June 13 hearing at which Depetre is to show cause why the city shouldn’t declare the building a dangerous and hazardous structure and order its repair or demolition.
Depetre said he has renovated a number of buildings in downtown Bonner Springs and hoped to do something similar in Tonganoxie, where he has lived the past 18 years.
Part of the old creamery has a collapsed roof and may need to come down, Depetre said. But he said the section dating to the late 1910s, which he wants to renovate into a shop, was salvageable.
“For 45 years, I’ve been buying and rebuilding old buildings,” he said. “Those old building were built much better than what is put up today.”
Depetre said he talked to then-Mayor Mike Vestal before buying the old creamery, who suggested there might be public money to help with the renovations. But he said he heard nothing once he purchased the building.
The city didn’t bother him about the building until he started cleaning up around it, Depetre said. He said he wonders why it is being singled out when there are others in the community, some in very high traffic areas, which were in need of attention.
A February report was forwarded to the city’s code inspector and included in the package shared with the city council before its scheduled May 23 meeting. The show-cause hearing written by Sgt. Russell Moore of the Tonganoxie Police Department cites numerous concerns of the building and surrounding property. Among them were questions of the structural soundness of the building, fire hazards from flammable material, trash and live electrical wires and the dangers of holes in exterior walls that allow access to its interior.
Depetre said when he purchased the building he met with police officials and was told that if he posted “no trespassing” signs, police would watch the structure. But he said, the police failed to act when a trespasser knocked a hole in the wall or when other trespassers were caught inside the building.
He would attend the June 13 hearing with his attorney, Depetre said.
After the city county scheduled the condemnation hearing, Mayor Jason Ward said the action resulted from a city codes inspector knowing and doing his job. The city now employs Mark Lee one day a week to do building inspections and code enforcement. Lee works for Basehor in the same capacities the remaining four days of the week.