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Club Canine vs. Carmel over grain elevator demolition

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Club Canine Owner Kera Slowitsky
  • Club Canine Owner Kera Slowitsky

In the shadow of the Carmel Grain elevator, which will soon be destroyed to make room for a water tower and a public park, you will find Club Canine Doggie Daycare. It is a state-of-the-art facility that has received much business over the Spring Break holiday.

But the ability of this small business to operate through the imminent demolition of the grain elevator is now an open question.

In addition, there are health concerns about the demolition that the Club Canine manager feels have not been adequately addressed by the city of Carmel, and that could have a negative impact in the surrounding area.

Carmel-based photographer Ron Kern and others have made the case to preserve the Grain Elevator for its historical value - and Indiana Landmarks' Marsh Davis has offered to put forth money to study the possibility of preserving the site - but to no avail. At this point, it may only be a couple of days before demolition begins. Holly Anderson, the Club Canine manager, is not especially concerned about the historical value of the Carmel Grain Elevator. She is a Noblesville resident who has no dog in this fight, as it were. Their lease is up in a year and a half and she knew that they would have to move at that time. But Club Canine, she claims, needed much more notice than what they've been given.

Their first notice of the imminent demolition, according to Anderson was on Tuesday, April 3, when they were informed by Matt Worthley, of the Carmel Redevelopment Commission (CRC). Now Anderson, and Club Canine owner Kera Slowitsky, are asking the city of Carmel to delay demolition to allow them enough time to relocate."Tuesday when Matt (Worthley) came," Anderson said, "He told us that demolition of the grain elevator would start in two to three days and continue probably for about a month. So it's basically up to the CRC and the City of Carmel... to decide whether, as a small business, we're worth it or not. Because postponing taking the building down is not going to impact any redevelopment plan. There would be no impact on them but it would be devastating to us. It's up to them whether they want to potentially ruin our business or not."

Anderson and Slowitsky have multiple concerns if the demolition of the grain elevator goes forward as scheduled. The noise of the demolition, Anderson and Slowitsky fear, will make their dogs hard to manage for an extended period of time. And they have to stay in that facility for the time being because they cannot just move their dogs, and their facility, overnight, they say. (Their state-of-the-art facility has a large common area for dogs with a $6,000 rubber floor.) They also have health concerns not only for their dogs but also for surrounding residents and businesses. One concern is asbestos, which was in some of the buildings adjacent to the grain elevator. "The only permit that they have to get is for asbestos," said Anderson. "When hazmat was out there to deal with the asbestos, we didn't know anything about it. Our bigger concern that that the building is old and there's feces of bats, feral cats, and birds."

"The asbestos was already removed a few weeks ago, so that is no longer an issue," wrote Nancy Heck, Director of Community Relations for the City of Carmel, in an email response requested by NUVO to address Anderson's concerns. "We also shared information with Club Canine about the company that was selected for the removal project, detailing their experience with very intricate building removal jobs and emphasizing the fact that they are a very reputable company with a proven record of safety and more than 20 years of experience. We also reminded them that there are strict Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) regulations in place to address issues including air quality and safety of those in the area. This includes requirement that no airborne debris leave the site, which will be accomplished by spraying large amounts of water into the air to capture errant dust." Nancy Heck also states that Club Canine chose to locate in an industrial area of the city and seems to imply that they should not be surprised by anything the city does there. "As you can imagine, there is already a lot of dust, noise and work activity each day in that location," she stated.

Despite the efforts of Heck, and the CRC to explain their point of view, Club Canine is getting the support from local business owners who think it is unfair to give such short notice to Club Canine about something that could put them out of business. Others are more concerned about the health effects of demolition. And now even Mayor Brainard himself is involved in damage control. Brainard, in an April 10 email sent to various parties - including Club Canine manager Anderson - alludes to the health concerns. "An inspection was done about thirty days ago by a environmental consultant and the consultant indicated there is no environmental risk," he wrote.

Anderson requested that the mayor send this report to her. "If you do not have a copy in hand," she wrote in her email response. "Please forward the contact information for the environmental consultant who did the inspection as soon as possible, as this is a timely and emergent matter to us, our clients, and our business as a whole."

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