Phenix City woman urges city to fix hole in building caused by police car

Phenix City woman urges city to fix hole in building caused by police car
Published: Oct. 17, 2014 at 10:19 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 19, 2014 at 2:54 PM EDT
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After a police cruiser slammed into a Phenix City food bank December 2013, the building's owner is calling for the city to repair it.

Marie Ertha, owner of God's Store House, said she feels since a Phenix City police officer destroyed the front end of her building, it's the city's responsibility to repair it completely. 

However, that's not what she says is happening.

"You're going to come here and destroy my building and then going to condemn it and not pay me for what you did!" Ertha exclaimed. "I don't think that's right!"

A police cruiser lost control during a high speed chase last December, and went careening into Ertha's building. Since then, she says she's been fighting with the city for repairs or repayment. 

"We made some repairs to the front of the building," explained Phenix City Police Chief Ray Smith. "We actually replaced that front wall that the officer had gone through and spent some city funds to get that done." 

Chief Smith said it is the city's responsibility to repair the wall they damaged; however, Ertha says what's been done so far is unacceptable.

"And you're going to put some boards here and say this is alright and this justifiable – no," Ertha added. 

She claims that the city condemned her property to avoid fixing it. We took those concerns to Chief Building Official Gil Griffith.

"When the police car hit the building, we went in to look at it and check the damage," Griffith said. "At that time we discovered that the building was basically condemnable. It had structural damage."

Griffith showed these pictures taken shortly after the crash. They show holes in the roof that he says were not caused by the crash. The pictures also showed parts of the roof falling down. Griffith added that the building, used to pass out non-perishable foods, did not have lights or water. 

While Ertha admits to these findings, she says the city's stance just raises more questions.

"Why would the mayor come inside of my building and say 'what a great job you're doing for this community' if it was so condemned?" Ertha asked. 

Ertha says her property is valued at more than $75,000. Griffith revealed documents that showed both buildings on her property are worth just under $30,000. 

We're told negotiations have been turned over to the city's attorney.

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