Danger to community safety
Village starts timeline to get Mayville Diner debris cleared
MAYVILLE — It’s been eight months since the Mayville Diner was destroyed in a fire. Village officials are growing tired of waiting to have the property cleaned up and are forcing the issue.
During this week’s Village Board meeting, the board passed a resolution to declare 7 West Chautauqua St. as a danger to the community’s safety and health and ordered the property to be cleaned up by either the owner or by the village, which would in turn place a lien on the property.
The resolution passed with Trustee Sun Ray Eagle Harrington voting against it.
“We’re giving the property owner until Aug. 18 to get it cleaned up,” said Mayor Ken Shearer. “After that we can go out to bid.”
Shearer said he is not expecting the property owner to respond, but is giving him a week. “We’ve sent letters before,” he said.
On Dec. 9 at around 10:30 p.m. the diner, which has been a staple in the village for more than 70 years, went up in flames. It was completely destroyed, leaving only a pile of debris.
Two weeks later, the owner, Michael S. Ellis, who was 40 at the time of his arrest, was charged with third-degree arson, a class C felony. Ellis operated the diner and was reportedly making payments on the property to the previous owner Bob Bonar.
According to Shearer, village officials have reached out to Ellis since his name is on the deed.
During Tuesday night’s meeting, which w as in person and open to the public as long as they were wearing masks, several residents commented that it’s “about time” the village does something with the property. One resident called it an “eye-sore” while another said he saw raccoons going in and out of the debris.
Along with the first resolution declaring the property a danger, Harrington also voted against a resolution by the village board to move $13,600 from the village’s contingency account to its demolition of unsafe buildings account. When asked after the meeting why he voted no on the resolutions, he declined to comment further.
Shearer said now that the clock is ticking, the village hopes to start clean up soon. Ideally, he said, the property would be cleaned by before winter, but he said he couldn’t promise that. It is dependent on if the property owner responds and what the bids come in should the village be forced to clean it up.
Shearer did say if the village oversees the clean-up, the bill will be placed against the property owner, who would be responsible for paying it with taxes, or the next owner, should the property be sold.
Trustee Antoinette Moore said the decision is long overdue. “I think it’s ridiculous it’s not cleaned up already,” she said.
It’s not exactly known when the diner – originally called the Mayville Dinor – first open its doors. Devon Taylor, historian for the village and town of Chautauqua, cited newspaper articles stating that the restaurant would open no later than Nov. 15, 1949.
According to District Attorney Patrick Swanson, Ellis appeared in court earlier this year and was released on his own recognizance, due to the case being a non-violent offense and him not having any prior criminal history.
“We’re currently under negotiations. The case is active and moving forward,” he said.