Don't delay, fill in the hole

August 28, 2013 

Have you ever been in one of those theme park ride lines when you think you've finally made it to the front, only to go through a door and find another long queue?

That's what it feels like for the residents and business owners of Belleville, who are stuck waiting for someone to clean up that gaping hole on East Main Street left by a fire in May 2010.

The city waited two years for a judge to order owner Ronnie Phillips to clean up the hole or else have the city do it and bill him. But that wasn't the end of it.

The judge gave Phillips until June 20. Then Phillips was going to start the cleanup on July 17. Then the city gave Phillips until Aug. 9. Almost three more weeks have passed and still nothing.

Why doesn't the city just fill in the hole and seek reimbursement later? It's clear that Phillips has no intention of complying. Instead, the city has cited Phillips and Chester Nance, who owns adjacent property, for high weeds.

The citations are intended to give the city legal footing with Nance, who is threatening the city with trespass if it proceeds with the cleanup. Great. This is the owner the city thought was so cooperative, it didn't sue him also. Big mistake.

Instead of the citations clearing a path, it's more likely they will make the waiting line even longer. Think the hole will be filled by the start of the Christmas shopping season? In time for Art of the Square next year?

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