Cortland City Council Orders Home Damaged by Two Fires to be Torn Down
Friday, January 25, 2013
Cortland City Council Orders Home Damaged by Two Fires to be Torn Down
The Cortland City Common Council has voted to tear down a home on Harrington street that was damaged by two separate fires in less than two weeks.

City leaders voted unanimously last night to have the home at 16 Harrington Street demolished under the City’s unsafe building regulations.
The home is owned by SUNY Cortland Communications Professor Thomas Mwanika, it was damaged by a fire on December 22nd and another on January 3rd. 
City Engineer Ken Teeter conducted an analysis of the home and found it is not safe and will costs anywhere from $80 to $100 thousand dollars to repair.
Three potential buyers emerged for the home, but all turned it down presumably due to the extensive damage and high cost of repairs.
Mwanika is currently unable to deal with the property due to his health and limited resources, that means city taxpayers will foot the $18 thousand dollar bill to take the house down. The city is working with Mwanika to recover the cost but at this point there is no guarantee that the funds will be reimbursed. The cost can be levied against the property tax bill, it’s likely the property will go to auction and the chances of recovering all the money are slim.
City Mayor Brian Tobin says the primary goal is to take the house down so no one gets hurt by the property which is currently a hazard. The city is working with the owner toward the best outcome for everyone.
Mwankia is not insured, and has no resources to repair the home, the first fire was caused by an electrical problem, the second fire started after a family member attempted to reoccupy the home without power and started a fire in the home’s fireplace. The chimney for the fire place was not in working order and sparked a fire that worsened the original damage.
It’s expected the home will be torn down on Monday.

Photo Courtesy of Lara Weaver
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