Ipswich - The staircase drops off into nothingness now. The chimney has been cleaved down the center. And, most of the wall on that side of the building is gone. Now the question is this: Is what's left of the Ipswich News building worth saving?
The Historical Commission weighed in Monday night when members decided that with the tearing down of the Rosses portion of the building, what's left is not historically significant enough to impose the one-year demolition delay.
At the Chronicle's press time, Inspector Jim Sperber was going down to evaluate the property for safety issues. When the Rosses tore down their portion of the fire-damaged Market Street building last week, they shored up the Allens' property as required. However, that side of the Ipswich News building now has no wall. Although a fence has been installed to keep people off the property, the building may impose a safety hazard. Could debris fall from that side of the building now? Could curious children find their way inside?
These are questions the building inspector will decide. "My goal now is to protect the public," Sperber said.
Sperber said Ipswich police officers have been keeping an eye on the property, and Police Lt. Dan Moriarty said his department has not received any calls yet about suspicious activity there.
What's next for the Allens?
John Allen and his mother, Barbara, are still in wait-and-see mode. There is still too much up in the air. For instance, how close to the Ipswich News building will the Rosses construct their new structure? And, if the Allens are not able to open the newspaper store at that site again - they still hope to- would the Lottery Commission allow them to just transfer their lottery machine to a new site? Will the building inspector decide the structure is unsafe and needs to be demolished?
The Allens have been talking to local contractor Shawn Cayer and architect Mat Cummings about what possibilities exist for the building. But they have made no plans. What's next for the Rosses?
The Rosses are still in the planning stages. They are consulting with an architect and their plan is to create a building that is in keeping with the styles of the other properties on Market Street. They have to satisfy storm water regulations, which is a challenge so close to the Ipswich River. Arthur Ross said there must be an open space under the building for the water to go in and out if the river rises.