St. Mary’s ongoing project is an eyesore

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Bruce Duling bought the old St. Mary’s School building in 2002.

“My intent was to save this building,” he told the Riverside City Council Nov. 18, saying his plan was to convert the building into apartments.

The council has grown weary of the ongoing project, and many residents have called and complained about the eyesore.

“You have taken a big project on,” Councilperson Edgar McGuire said. “It’s been an eyesore.”

Council member Jeanine Redlinger added. “It looks awful on the outside. It’s getting old, and it needs to be done.”

There are two shipping containers on the property. Duling said he does not want to move them this winter. He plans to move a blue container in the spring, but the orange container he wants to leave on the site as a garden shed and a place to store his motorcycle.

City Administrator Christine Yancey complained that there are no current permits for the project, and city staff has been denied access to the building to see if the work is being done to code.

“Everything I have done is within code,” Duling said, claiming that he has not done any work requiring permits yet.

He added: “I am moving forward. I am doing the best I can.”

Duling said that he has encountered setbacks over the past 18 years, including taking care of sick parents and injuries that have forced him to stop working on the project for years at a time.

The council asked for three things from Duling:

• Set up a time to meet with Yancey.

• Set a timeline for the next eight months.

• Get any permits required by the city for continuing the work.

Duling had meetings scheduled with city staff on Nov. 22.

Councilperson Robert Schneider Jr., who attended classes in the building years ago, said he hopes Duling can complete the project.

“I would love to see this building restored,” he said. “It looks better, but it’s still an eyesore.”

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