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Harrington responds to Heitschmidt

Questions leadership

Staff writer

Bradford Harrington says he hasn’t slept well in a couple weeks thanks to a diatribe he called “humiliating and totally uncalled for” by Mayor Todd Heitschmidt.

Harrington had a chance to respond at the Marion council meeting Monday, at which he presented a deed of sale for four of five lots on his property at 432 Arbor St., and also detailed a plan to bring his remaining lot up to city code.

Before that discussion, however, he read from a letter in which he openly questioned the mayor’s tactics.

“I voted for you for mayor, Todd, but I’m not going to do it again, I guarantee you that,” Harrington began.

“You may think that publicly humiliating me, a property owner and taxpayer in this city and county, is going to help solve the city’s problem with substandard houses,” he recited. “What you’ve done with this tactic is to stir up shock and resentment at your heavy-handedness in this community, and I’ve heard a lot of comments.

“I think the citizens of Marion are going to judge you more harshly for your eagerness to publicly humiliate longstanding citizens than for some fiscal problems of houses. Fixing a rundown house is way easier than mending a disrespected and humiliated person.”

The mayor and councilors said nothing in reply to Harrington’s speech, and simply let Roger Holter move on to the discussion about the property. When that discussion eventually concluded, however, Heitschmidt called for a 10-minute recess, during which he caught Harrington, who was leaving, and began a private conversation with an apology, which was overheard as the door closed behind Heitschmidt.

They talked for several minutes before the meeting resumed.

Harrington sold lots 9 through 12 to contractor Bryan Grosse of Marion. Grosse plans on fixing up the two-story home on those lots, and was commended by council on his efforts with previous house restoration projects.

Harrington kept the remaining lot, a storage shed he intends to use for his business. He outlined a plan to bring the building to city code, and will meet with Marty Frederickson and Terry Jones at the site of the property to determine specific compliance requirements.

Harrington presented the deed of sale and the plan for restoring his remaining lot two hours before the council met Monday.

Harrington’s remaining lot will have the address changed to 126 Arbor St., which is what it was before Harrington purchased the five lots, at which point they were all given the same legal address for convenience.

Zoning Director Terry Jones said Harrington may need to place three parking spaces on the space because of its commercial use designation, but that requirement could possibly be waived.

Council approved a resolution, which can be updated when the terms of the restoration project are finalized.

Harrington has 160 days to complete project repairs. He can appeal to the council for extensions on that deadline two times, if necessary.

When asked if he would get the project finished on time, Harrington said he would, in time.

“I’m 77 years old,” he said. “I won’t be able to do it as fast as I would 10 years ago, but it’ll get done.”

Last modified March 19, 2015

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