The Oneota Historic Future Alliance (OHFA) has been asked to reimburse Winneshiek County for the cost of removing the caretaker's house last year.

In September 2008, the supervisors approved an agreement with OHFA, giving the organization two years to have the caretaker's house placed on the National Register of Historic Places and to identify a potential tenant, or take the building down by Nov. 30, 2010.

When OHFA was unable to meet the deadline, it was given an extension. The supervisors set a final deadline of Dec. 31, 2011 to comply with the agreement. When it did not, the supervisors approved paying $10,400 to have the building taken down.


Last month, the supervisors instructed Winneshiek County Attorney Andy Van Der Maaten to contact OHFA for repayment of its outstanding obligation to the county.

"Winneshiek County has incurred $10,400 in expenses associated with removing that house. Pursuant to the agreements made by OHFA with the county, that expense was to be reimbursed. OHFA was given the opportunity to pay $5,000 on or before Dec. 31, 2012 in full satisfaction of their obligations, but to date, have failed to make any payment," Van Der Maaten stated in a letter to OHFA member James Burns of Decorah.

Van Der Maaten suggested setting up a payment schedule to resolve the matter without additional expense to either party.

In a response sent to Van Der Marten, Burns said he is aware of the financial situation regarding the caretaker house.

"In the original agreement, the group had set aside $5,000 to be applied to the removal of the house, which was applied largely to an asbestos abatement bill," Burns wrote.

"When it came time to remove the house, Oneota Historic Future Alliance lacked the financial resources to be able to fund the entire removal.

"Circumstances have not changed significantly for OHFA. The only business activities that we have engaged in in the last year have been the casual sales of some of the East Side (former elementary school) materials that have been stored. The expenses of that adventure have exceeded any earnings and leaves us in much of the same situation that we were in at the time of the removal of the caretaker house, and that is we are unable to pay anything additional towards its removal," Burns concluded.