EAST LIVERPOOL - A Columbiana County Port Authority board member questioned why repairs to their office building were being undertaken before a final decision had been made on the structure's future.
Speaking at Monday's board meeting, Tim Weigle said he was surprised to learn repairs had been authorized to the north wall of the former Patterson Industries building, which has served as the port authority's home since the 1970s.
At the board's October meeting, Weigle talked about whether it was worth repairing the 100-year-old building because of deterioration problems a recent study estimated could take up to $300,000 to address.
As chairman of the building and grounds committee, Weigle said he was under the impression the board was going to discuss the matter further before taking any action, which is why he was surprised to see work had begun on repairing the building's north wall.
None of the other board members seemed surprised as port authority CEO Tracy Drake explained he used his emergency powers to hire a company to begin repairing the crumbling brick wall because its deterioration posed a safety hazard to vehicles going to and from the back of the building and to Heritage-WTI, which is also located behind the building.
"First and foremost, we didn't know how stable the wall is. We didn't want to be in a position where it would collapse," he said.
Drake hired Cowan Masonry of East Liverpool to perform the work for $92,000.
Weigle thought the board was going to decide whether it was worth putting any more money into the building before taking action that could result in the port authority relocating elsewhere.
"I hope we're not spending money we shouldn't be spending on this building," he said.
Drake said his thinking is the emergency repair work will buy them the additional time needed to make an informed decision on the fate of the building rather than be rushed into making a decision.
Weigle was attending his last meeting as a port authority member. He was recently elected county commissioner and intends to resign from the port authority before taking office as commissioner in January.