With the sale between the City of Metropolis and Friends of Fort Massac (FOFM) of the former Laidlaw property on Fifth Street finalized, FOFM are reminding the public to refrain from entering the property and the buildings.
FOFM was awarded a $116,000 Tourism Attraction Grant from the Illinois Office of Tourism in October to be used as matching funds to purchase the property. Paperwork was finalized on Dec. 27.
With the 8.32 acres of property next to the state’s first park now in FOFM’s possession, the organization’s president Mike Korte has a firm but friendly reminder: keep off.
“Neither the property nor the buildings provide a safe environment,” he said. “We don’t want anybody to get hurt.”
Laidlaw opened on the property in 1972 and operated there until 2001 when it moved to a new facility in the Metropolis Industrial Park. While the Fifth Street site has been used for storage by the city over the last dozen years and a portion was rented for a year or so by a trucking firm, for the most part it has been vacant.
Over the years, theft of scrap metal has been frequent on the property. But over the last several weeks, Korte noted the problem has become children and teenagers throwing rocks at the buildings’ windows.
While everyone’s safety on the property is a concern, Korte noted: “We want to make sure kids are aware to stay off the property. If anyone is caught trespassing, they will be charged.”
Acquiring the former Laidlaw property has been a long road for FOFM members. Now, they are looking forward to their next adventure — taking the ruff and turning it into Massac Village, a tourism site depicting how the first residents thrived in the river town that became Metropolis.
The property purchase is the first part of FOFM’s Phase One transformation of the property. The second part is the demolition and removal of the existing buildings. That work will be accomplished through a $550,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) through the Ohio River Scenic Byways.
Korte noted with that grant there are guidelines that have to be met, which will also determine the project’s timetable.
“We have to follow DOT guidelines, and we’re waiting to hear from them on our next step. They’ll tell us how to do the bidding (for the demolition work),” he said..
Phase Two of the overall project is the the planning and construction of the village. which will be pursued by FOFM after the demolition is concluded.