A social media effort has been launched to garner support for a Webster City business facing a major building repair.
A Facebook page popped up Wednesday night, urging people to support an effort to "Save Fuhs Bakery," and stated that the city of Webster City had directed the the owners to repair an outside wall on the business. The wall, which was once shared with another building, is deteriorating and poses a safety hazard, according city officials.
"The City is trying to force Fuhs to fix the 'eyesore' wall that does not belong to them. If they can't fix this wall, they will be forced to close," the Facebook page stated to followers. The Daily Freeman-Journal contacted the Facebook page administrator who declined to comment, other than to say they were a family friend who wanted to help.
The east outside wall of the building that houses Fuhs Pastry Shop was once a common wall with a now demolished building. City officials said they fear the wall is unstable and may pose an imminent danger. A 2012 engineering report agreed. The question of who should pay for the repairs is at the crux of the matter
The page had received more than 1,250 "likes" by early evening Thursday.
"This is not about an eyesore. It's structural. The wall is falling," said City Manager Ed Sadler.
In May 2012, an engineering analysis by Tometich Engineering Inc. of Urbandale, found the wall was leaning outward to the east by 1.5 inches in six feet.
"This is a dangerous lean. The wall also has deterioration at the base and bricks are falling from it at the top," the report stated.
The turn-of-the-century building had shared a common wall with what was the former Dyvig's Pet Shop. That building was demolished, leaving a facade that was never meant to be an exterior wall.
"The adjacent building has been demolished and the common wall between them has been exposed to the elements," the analysis stated. "The wall was not intended to be an exterior wall and thus the masonry has accelerated deterioration."
The report concluded that the wall is in "imminent danger of collapse and should be treated as a dangerous situation and that the area should be fenced off and the floors and roof should be re-shored."
Sadler said that while he viewed the wall as a dangerous situation, no one could predict when the wall might collapse.
"I certainly don't want anyone standing beside it or inside the building when it happens," he said.
A second report completed by Tometich Engineering on Fuhs Bakery said that a proposal to cover the exposed wall could be adequate, but recommended the structure be monitored yearly.
At the heart of the matter may be who actually owns the wall and bear the cost of the repairs - the Fuhs, former owners of the demolished building or the current owner of the vacant lot.
"I'm not sure who gets to determine whose responsibility it is but it seems like it's more of a civil matter between two owners of property," Sadler said.
He said that state law does allow for the deeding of a wall to the adjacent building owners.
The comments on the Facebook page also questioned who should be responsible for the repairs.
"We are fortunate to have Fuh's Bakery. Who owns the outside wall? I wonder how the law reads?" asked one person.
Several commenters offered to help start a fundraising campaign to help pay for repairs.
"Can't Fuh's fans rally together to raise the money to fix the wall?" asked another.
Still other comments slammed the City Council for "picking on a local business."
Fuhs Pastry Shop opened in 1970 and offers a variety of rolls, doughnuts and other pastries. The owners, Tom and Shirley Fuhs, closed the business last summer due to health issues, but reopened in February 2013.
"People are happy we're coming back. We are happy to be opening back up. We have great customers and have missed them, too," Shirley Fuhs said at the time of the reopening.
The Daily Freeman-Journal reached out to the Fuhs about the wall issue, but they declined to comment.
Not on the agenda
The Facebook page also urges area residents to attend the City Council meeting on Monday to show support for the business. However, the matter of the wall is not on the agenda, according to Sadler, so no action will be taken by the City Council. Local citizens can address the council during the public comments time at the beginning of the meeting.