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Phillipsburg Council freezes action on old Ice House property

By Kevin Lechiski, WFMZ.com Reporter, news@wfmz.com
Published On: Feb 05 2013 09:36:19 PM CST
Updated On: Feb 06 2013 07:16:31 AM CST
Ice House in Phillipsburg, NJ

Ice House in Phillipsburg, NJ

PHILLIPSBURG, N.J. -

Phillipsburg, N.J.'s Town Council has decided to temporarily freeze a decision on ordering the owner of the old Ice House property to tear down the remaining building onsite.

The landmark local property, located at 1116 South Main St., had once served as an ice manufacturing business starting in the early 1900s, selling ice by the block from its facility and door-to-door for use in home and business iceboxes.

But once refrigerators became more commonplace as time went on, the old Ice House quickly became obscure. With ice not being sold there in some 45 years, all but one of the onsite buildings have been torn down over the years. This last building, officials said, is in serious danger of collapsing.

Town Council on Tuesday night decided to delay action on the demolition of the remaining onsite building after the owner indicated a developer has expressed interest in acquiring the property. The developer's name was not released, although officials said this developer has been involved another project in town.

Council decided to carry a public habitability hearing on possible action against the property after owner Carrie Scott requested a meeting between the mayor, town engineer and interested developer on possible future uses at the site and measures to secure the existing structure.

Council voted to continue the hearing on March 5, at which time a decision could be made on whether to order the owner demolish the building.

Mayor Harry Wyant Jr. said the town has previously ordered the demolition of structurally unsafe buildings. If the owner does not agree to demolish an unsafe building as ordered by council, the town pays a contractor to conduct the demolition. A lien is then placed on the property to collect the demolition costs, he said. Wyant describes such a decision as last resort.

During Tuesday night's hearing, town Construction Code Official Kevin Duddy testified that the old Ice House property's structures, including the actual Ice House, have been demolished a little at a time by multiple owners. The last-standing building -- which for a time served as a bobbin factory following the closing of the Ice House -- had been eyed for improvements in the past, he said, but never came to fruition.

"It's probably time for that building to come down," Duddy testified.

While agreeing to meet with the owner and interested developer, Wyant noted action must be taken soon.

"The building is seriously damaged and is a danger to any children or others who may try to get in," he said.

In addition to the building being structurally unsafe, officials also noted concerns over the condition of a large water tower that appears to be deteriorating around its base.

In a light-hearted moment following the council meeting, Wyant shared some of his memories of the former Ice House.

"I remember going there as a kid and dragging home a 50-pound block of ice," he said.