Neighborhood

City to re-secure former Toney site due to cat problem

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The City of Crawfordsville will again board up a former oil company building after a local veterinary clinic raised concerns about the site being a roaming ground for stray cats.

The former Toney Petroleum site at 508 John St. has been a years-long headache for the city, which gained ownership of the property in 2018. The building is on the list to be demolished, but past ground contamination has delayed the process.

Staff at New Ross Veterinary Services say they first reached out to the city about six months ago after receiving reports of cats overrunning the abandoned building.

During a recent inspection, veterinarian’s assistant Susan Weatherford, who once lived in the neighborhood, said she saw people dropping off cats. Some of the cats are pregnant. Weatherford said she found bowls of antifreeze and there was feces everywhere.

“It smells like a litter box out there,” Weatherford said.

Outside the white clapboard building, a cat was seen sitting in a tangle of tree limbs beneath a sign still advertising the petroleum company. Someone had removed a board covering an open basement window and there were other holes around the foundation.

A tray filled with cat food sat on the front steps next to plastic coffee containers and two other mostly empty food pans.

City code enforcement officer Barry Lewis, who spoke with Weatherford on Thursday morning, said he would ask the street department to replace the boards.

“We are aware that there are cat issues in that house. There have been cat issues in that house for many years,” Lewis said.

“Part of the problem is that every time we go and try to board that house up, somehow our boards get taken away by someone,” Lewis added. “And we have had people who continue to feed the cats at that location.”

The Animal Welfare League of Montgomery County has also received several cat complaints from the John Street area, director Misha Anderson said. Most of the cats are feral. Anderson said she would need authorization to enter the property to retrieve the animals.

“It’s going to be a challenge because they’re not friendly cats,” Anderson said.

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