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Council members express concern for vacant Court Street building

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The former Berow & Monroe building has sat mostly idle after the city sold the deteriorating Court Street structure back to a West Virginia businessman about 20 months ago.

Now the Watertown City Council has voiced concerns that businessman Alex Rahmi has failed to bring the building at 138 Court St. up to code as he had promised when it was sold back to him for $20,000 in March 2012.

Council members stipulated then that he had a year to start making repairs to it. Mr. Rahmi bought the building back from the city after owing about $25,000 in back taxes and allowing a deadline to pass to pay them. Council members agreed to the deal with the condition that he fix it up.

On Monday, Councilman Jeffrey M. Smith asked whether the city should regain control of the building since Mr. Rahmi has failed to do what he promised.

“My concern is that I have not seen any action all,” he said.

On Wednesday, City Code Enforcement Supervisor Shawn R. McWayne said only some patching of the roof has been completed when Mr. Rahmi had promised to replace the roof. Also, the Watertown firm of Aubertine and Currier Architects submitted some preliminary floor plans to his office Oct. 29, but they did not contain enough information to issue a building permit.

No work can start until an asbestos survey is conducted.

Recently, a for sale sign was put on the building, causing council members to have more concerns and ask what it would involve to take ownership of the building again. City Attorney Robert J. Slye said the city would have to return the money for the building to Mr. Rahmi.

“Be careful for what you ask for,” Mr. Slye said.

Council members also expressed concern that the deteriorating building could end up damaging adjacent buildings.

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