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Fate of historic Chanute building undetermined due to wall owner - KOAM TV 7

Fate of historic Chanute building undetermined due to wall ownership controversy

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Mel's Southside Tavern was the place to be. 

"Anybody that has lived in Chanute for the past 40, 50, 60 years, I can almost guarantee has been here at one time or another," said co-owner Melissa Bartholomew. 

But it now sits empty. Owners Melissa and Earl Bartholomew closed the restaurant this spring due to major repairs needed for the entrance wall on the east side and the back wall on the west. The Bartholomews say they have begun work to repair the entrance wall. For the back wall, however, there's controversy. They believe it is the city's responsibility, as it used to own the now non-existent hotel connected to it.

"The paperwork says that the owner of lot three, which is where the hotel was behind this building, owns this western wall. So, to us, since the city owns lot three, they own that western wall."

City manager Jeff Cantrell says this is not the case and the owners of the remaining building have the duty of maintaining the once shared wall.

"The city has always had a very proactive stance on preserving downtown," said Cantrell. "And we feel that this building is part of historic downtown, but at the same time, weighing the costs and the fact that we do not have a legal obligation to make the repairs comes into question and impacts other tax payers and the city."

The areas by the eastern and western walls are blocked off. As for what's next, it's a waiting game.

"Depending upon what level of repair the current owner intends to make to the building, and we don't know that at present. But until that information is known, we really need to take the position of preserving public safety. In that order, we would require the building be demolished," said Cantrell.

"It just seems silly for us to spend 20, 30, $40,000 if ultimately the city is not going to fix their wall and going ahead and tear us down," said Bartholomew. 

Melissa says she understands the costs for the city, but that she and earn hoped it would take more responsibility for an old building that once served so many.

"That's just a time for one business to be in one place," said Bartholomew. "It's just hard to let go." 

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