Golden Grove, locale of many memories, is condemned

Fri, 05/03/2019 - 8:15am

The old structure known as Golden Grove, modest palace to a generation of Block Island memories, has been condemned.

According to Building Official Marc Tillson, his decision to condemn the building has as much to do with the condition of the structure as it does with the kinds of activities that take place there now.

“This is a hard thing to do,” said Tillson of the condemnation. “So many people have enjoyed it, enjoyed the view, have a bottle of wine, but this just goes to show you how the clientele has changed.” Tillson said he has found lighters, candles, and other debris and paraphernalia inside the building, which have created a fire and safety hazard. He called some of the graffiti inside and out “repulsive.” He also said there are new homes being built in the same neighborhood. “My duty is to protect the community,” he said. The process started, he said, “with a complaint from the neighbors in the area.” Tillson said there have also been reports of items missing from nearby homes.

The Notice of Violation was sent to the Burns family in California on April 19. Tillson said he had a conversation with the owners, and recommended that their legal counsel review the documents. He said it was “a sad conversation.” (The Block Island Times was unable to contact the owners.)

According to the notice, the owners have 30 days to comply with provisions in the notice, or the building will be town down by the town at the owners’ expense. (The notice also states that the building had to be boarded up within 10 days of its issuance, which it has been.)

“The building is vacant, unguarded, and open at doors and windows, thereby permitting unauthorized entry; and… There is a hazardous accumulation of dust, debris, or other combustible material therein;… and there is a deterioration of structure, or structural parts, or a structural weakness exists whereby the continued use and occupancy would endanger the lives of the occupants or those using public lands in the immediate area,” according to the notice. Tillson also wrote that the building has been vacant for at least 180 days “… and has remained in a condition such that repairs necessary to make the building safe and sanitary for occupancy exceed fifty percent of the fair market value in its present condition.” The building, said Tillson to The Times, “is worthless.” Golden Grove is located at the end of an old, unnamed dirt road at the north end of Corn Neck Road (plat 1, lot 3-2).

Tillson was unsure of the age of the structure, but added that it has not been inhabited for as long as he has been the Building Official, which has been 30 years. He also said the building is now located just “nine feet away from the coastal bluff.”

The owners have two options: either raze the structure or take out the necessary building permits to rebuild. Rebuilding it would require the structure to become a “code-compliant home” with wiring, plumbing, and heating systems, said Tillson.

The owners can also file a grievance of the notice to the Zoning Board of Review within 30 days of its issuance.