'The Hole' in downtown Belleville will be filled soon

News-DemocratOctober 31, 2013 

After a fire on May 26, 2010, Belleville city leaders demolished two buildings deemed unsafe at 205 E. Main St. The owners went to court over the action and the drawn-out battle left the city with a downtown eyesore through years of public festivals and Christmas shopping seasons. Work finally began Monday to fill 'The Hole."

BRAD WEISENSTEIN/BND

— The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency has said the asbestos at what is known as "The Hole" on East Main Street downtown was properly removed this week.

The hole is what is left of two buildings at 201 and 205 E. Main St. that were demolished after a fire on May 26, 2010.

David Mertzke, of Mertzke Trucking & Excavating Co., said the hole will be filled with dirt once the ground is dry.

"Now it's up to you to do a sun dance," Mertzke said.

The work could not be done Thursday because of the rain.

Though rain is not in the forecast the rest of this week, Mertzke said he has to wait for the ground to dry, so the soonest the work could start is Monday.

Once crews start the work, the task should be done in a couple of days, Mertzke said.

Mertzke was hired by building owners Ronnie Phillips and Chester Nance for an estimated $44,500.

A St. Clair County judge has ruled that city officials had the right to order demolition of the buildings for safety reasons after the fire. And, the judge said Phillips is responsible for cleaning and grading the site.

Phillips is appealing the decision in the Fifth District Appellate Court. The court has set oral arguments in the case for Dec. 17.

Contact reporter Jacqueline Lee at jlee@bnd.com or 239-2655. Follow her on Twitter at https://twitter.com/BNDBelleville.

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