OC Council discusses trail cameras, storm damages to downtown roofs

Oil City Council members on Thursday discussed the possibility of putting up security cameras on the stretch of the Samuel Justus bike trail within the Oil City limits.

That topic had been raised after the body of Oil City woman Suzette Nellis was found near the trail on the city’s West End on March 27. Her death has been ruled a homicide, and a suspect, David Bosley of Oil City, is in custody.

Additionally, the recent disaster when part of the roof of the IOOF building on Seneca Street blew off in an April 1 storm and damaged the neighboring Seneca Court roof, causing that building to be evacuated of its tenants, was also a focus of discussion at Thursday’s council meeting.

As far as the trail cameras, a very preliminary packet about the type of cameras available and some estimates about cost were presented to council members, and they said they are in favor of moving forward with looking into putting up cameras.

City manger Mark Schroyer noted that the estimates didn’t include the costs of poles, electrifying the cameras, maintenance or monitoring.

Some cameras are solar powered, Oil City police chief Dave Ragon said, and he added that the cameras would help deter crime and catch criminals.

Ragon said in response to questions about potential grant funding that “there are grants for everything. You just have to be looking for them.”

City public works director Howard Faunce said he will have someone brush hog the sides of the trail so the underbrush is farther back from the trail for safety.

Kelly Ryan, the city’s community and economic development director, said upgrades to the West End marina will include security lighting, which would improve the lighting in that area.

Councilmen also commended Oil City police and all the other law enforcement agencies for their quick apprehension of Bosley. He was taken into custody April 6 at his 1605 West First St. home.

Ragon said it was a team effort involving state police and others.

“We all had friends who worked in the labs. A couple of the troopers spent their days off driving evidence to the lab in Greensburg,” Ragon said.

The chief added it was phenomenal how everybody involved from different departments, both police and also the Oil City Fire Department, stepped up.

“We got contacted by the state to get DNA results and an arrest in 10 days is unheard of,” Ragon said. He added that getting DNA results often takes between six weeks and six months.

IOOF building damages

Council also discussed at length the recent storm damage to the IOOF structure, commonly referred to as the Odd Fellows building, at 220 and 222 Seneca St.

Part of the Odd Fellows roof flew off in the wind during the April 1 storm, and most of it landed on the roof of Seneca Court at 232 Seneca, causing so much damage both buildings were condemned.

Yvonne Greene, the city’s code enforcement officer, added that some of the roof that came off the IOOF building landed on a wooden walkway and patio attached to the IOOF building, but the building in between the IOOF building and Seneca Court was largely undamaged.

The IOOF building is one of five buildings in Oil City owned by Milan Adamovsky of New Jersey, who came to town with grand ideas for “bringing back Oil City” more than two years ago and bought up buildings in the North Side business district, then went silent, leaving his buildings to rot for two years.

All five deeds were transferred from the sellers to Adamovsky and his various limited liability companies.

Greene and Schroyer noted Thursday that the person whose name appears on the deed to a property is responsible for that property.

Emergency repairs were made to Seneca Court, including rebuilding the truss and putting a tarp on the roof until it can be fixed more permanently. The condemned sign was removed from that building Monday, and tenants have begun to return, Greene said.

Nearly two weeks later, no repairs have been made to the IOOF building and there isn’t even a tarp on the roof to keep water from getting into the building, Greene said.

She said she heard from Adamovsky earlier Thursday and he told her he will be coming to Oil City on Saturday with a roofer.

Councilman Ron Gustafson said part of the roof flying in the wind “would lead me to believe that the rest of the roof is just as bad and might fly off in any direction in another wind.”

Based on the pictures he had seen of the damage, Gustafson said it looked like part of the brick parapet on the IOOF building had also fallen down.

Schroyer said the IOOF building has been a problem for a while and several years ago the city threatened to hold a public nuisance hearing because a previous owner was not taking care of the building.

Schroyer noted that since that time the building has changed hands but the city has “not been getting much cooperation” from Adamovsky.

“We may be looking at a formal nuisance hearing in the near future. Two weeks later (after the storm) and nothing is fixed. His building caused damage to other buildings. We will see if we get any action from him,” Schroyer said.

The city manager added that Adamovsky has never shared any plans for his five buildings beyond the mention of putting in a high end ice cream shop in the former Rosen, Rosen and Varsek building on the corner of Seneca and Center streets. No improvements have been made to any of the buildings, he noted.

Greene also said something on the roof of the Grandview Estates building, which Adamovsky also owns, is hanging over the sidewalk and also must be addressed when he comes to town.

Four summary citations for “unsafe conditions” were issued in January to Adamovsky by the Oil City code enforcement office, but he never responded to the citations, resulting in warrants, Greene said.