Danger of falling bricks forces closure of 2 sidewalks

Two sections of sidewalk in downtown Merrill have been closed for almost two months as the city tries to work with the owners of the properties next to them to remedy a falling brick hazard.

The sidewalks involved, in front of 813 E. Main and alongside 820 E. Main on Mill Street were closed by the Street Department under orders of the Public Works Committee. George Schau, Engineer Assistant and Zoning Administrator said the move came after there were reports that bricks were falling off the buildings and onto the sidewalk.

“It may have been isolated incidents but there were bricks falling from the buildings,” Schau said. “As a safety precaution the sidewalks were ordered closed.”

Schau said the matter was discussed at the staff level in City Hall before the action was taken and repair orders were issued for the two properties by City Attorney Tom Hayden. The repair orders are the first step in the process the city can take to ensure that the properties are brought up to code.

“There is a section in the building code that states that buildings must be maintained properly and not present a hazard to the public,” he said.

Schau said that his office has been in contact with the owners and they had asked for more time to evaluate their options. They were given until the next meeting of the Public Works Committee, which is Wednesday, July 28, to present their plans for bringing the buildings into compliance with the building code.

Once the plans are submitted, they will be forwarded to the building inspector for review and the issuance of building permits. Commercial building permits, which are issued by the state, may be needed for the projects.

“But we won’t know that until we see the plans,” Schau said.

If the owners do not submit plans for remedy

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