New London – The left traffic lane in front of 27 Bank St. will remain closed at least through the weekend until city officials and an engineer can determine if it is safe to open.
The lane of traffic has been closed since Wednesday night, when several window panes popped out of the fourth floor of 27 Bank St. and crashed to the sidewalk below, narrowly missing two pedestrians.
A blocked roof drain caused several hundred gallons of water to pool on the flat roof, according to Acting Building Official Jamie Salmon. The weight of the water caused the plaster ceiling to cave in and smash the windows.
An inspection of the property Thursday revealed that the building’s parapet, a low wall that extends above the front of the roof, is in “less than good condition,” Salmon said.
On Friday, the 12 windows of the building were boarded up by the city’s Public Works Department, Salmon said, and scaffolding is expected to be erected Saturday morning by engineering contrators.
“They know it’s an emergency that we need to get the sidewalk opened up,” Salmon said of the contractors. “Once we have the scaffolding up, we can open the sidewalk so pedestrian traffic is safe, so we can stop them from crossing the road there. Then we’ll have analysis done on whether we can open the road.”
The road won’t open until at least Monday, Salmon said, when further engineering reviews can be done. There is no parking directly across from the building in front of The Commoner restaurant and Lost Souls, a tattoo shop, Salmon said, and cars there are being ticketed and towed by police.
The property, which city records say is owned by Five Star Investment, is being sold in a tax sale on June 21 because the owners are delinquent on its taxes.
Tax Collector Maureen Farrell said as of Thursday, the business owed the city $8,456.19 in taxes plus state marshal fees.
According to the Secretary of the State’s website, Christopher J. Wihbey Sr. of Wolcott is listed as Five Star’s president.
Wihbey said in a phone interview Thursday that his company does not own the building.
Salmon said the building’s owner, Wihbey, has “been unresponsive so we’re trying different angles to get in touch with him.” Salmon said Wihbey would be held accountable for any costs associated with the work and repair on the building, including the scaffolding.