Fairbanks set to demolish eyesore owned by ex-legislator

Posted: Friday, July 07, 2000

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- A derelict building owned by former state Rep. Al Vezey of North Pole will be demolished this summer after city officials tried for nearly a decade to get the structure cleaned up. Two men died of exposure there in April after drinking alcohol and passing out.

The old Matanuska Creamery building is expected to be down by the end of the summer, city officials say. Vezey said he sold the building several years ago, but there's no official record of such a sale.

''We've been working on it for a long time,'' said Fairbanks Mayor Jim Hayes. ''The good news is, it will be gone.''

The city sent a certified letter June 14 to the owner telling him that the city will take over the demolition of the crumbling structure, and the cleanup, after June 24.

Former state Rep. Al Vezey, R-North Pole, is listed on Fairbanks North Star Borough tax rolls as the owner. But he told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner he sold the property in 1995 or 1996 to the previous owner, Ken Colette. Vezey said he received the city's letter but ignored it.

Vezey said he had nothing to do with the property, had not initiated a cleanup, and had not contacted Colette.

Colette could not be reached by the News-Miner Wednesday. City building official Steve Shuttleworth said he had been trying to reach Colette about the property as well. The city hired Yukon Title Company to do a title search, Shuttleworth said, and Vezey was identified again as the owner.

Arvil Still, owner of L&N Construction, said his firm was doing initial cleanup of the site under a contract with Colette.

Still said 30 dump truck loads of debris had been removed from the property, but work was stopped so arrangements could be made to remove some asbestos.

If the city takes over the demolition and site cleanup, the bill will go to the owner of record, Shuttleworth said.

The site has been a problem for neighbors, who say vagrants and vandals frequent the property. In April, two men died from exposure after passing out from alcohol use in the building. Fairbanks police Sgt. Phil James said city police receive complaints about the building regularly.

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