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Borough closes, reopens Elks Building after roof leak

signThe historic Elks Building at South Union and Emaus streets was reopened on Friday, April 18, one day after Middletown Borough closed the doors of the three shops and movie theater within the building when it deemed the structure could be “unsafe.”

According to Anne Einhorn, a member of Middletown Borough Council, the building had been declared sound by an engineer and a report indicating that had been sent by e-mail to the borough’s codes inspector who originally requested it.

The codes inspector apparently didn’t get his e-mail Thursday, so it was faxed to him this [Friday] morning, she said.

“I guess you could say that it was a miscommunication,” said Einhorn, the wife of Gordon Einhorn, vice chairman of the Greater Middletown Economic Development Corp., the building’s owner.

Andy Nelson, a codes inspector with Commonwelath Code Inspection Service, said he received the e-mail just after 7 a.m. on Friday, and removed the placards soon afterward.

Anne Einhorn said she believes that the inspector “did kind of jump the gun” since the engineer had until the end of Friday, April 18 to submit the report.

“Why he came and started closing everything down yesterday is kind of a mystery,” she said.

Chris Courogen, the borough’s director of communications, stated that he knew nothing regarding the reopening.

Meanwhile, business as usual has resumed for some of the stores within the Elks Building, including Alma’s House of Flowers and Gifts.

 “We got here this morning and the signs were off,” said Kathy Suhr, owner of Alma’s. “The paperwork [for the repairs] has been done … so it never should have been shut down in the first place.”

The borough closed the century-old building on Thursday, April 17, placing placards on entrance doors that declared the building was an “unsafe structure’’ following a roof leak in late March.

The GMEDC protested Thursday, saying it would appeal the closing. The leak had been repaired and an architect had verified that the building is structurally sound, said Gordon Einhorn.
“There is no problem, and we can prove that,’’ he said on Thursday.

Shop owners closed their doors Thursday to customers after the borough posted a red placard on each shop’s door that declared, “unsafe structure keep out.’’ They prepared to move their inventory – to a temporary or permanent new home, depending on their view of whether the matter will be quickly resolved.

Nelson, of Commonwealth Code Inspection Service of Manheim, filed a notice of violation on GMEDC after a ceiling in part of the building collapsed during heavy rains on March 29 and 30.

A shop owner, Charles Dunn, called Dauphin County 9-1-1 after the leaking roof dropped water in his antiques and collectibles store, authorities said. That prompted Nelson to visit the building, and issue a codes violation notice.