Sands Dorsey building concerns officials

Thomas Garcia

Three years have passed since the historic Sands Dorsey building was destroyed by fire and city officials are still seeking funding to demolish the remains.

“We have not been able to find any funding for the demolition of the Sands Dorsey building at this point,” said city manager Bobbye Rose.

Rose said she has been checking into state and federal sources for the money needed to demolish the building.

“It is going to cost $500,000 to properly demolish and dispose of the building and its materials,” Rose said. “The debris will have to be hauled to a landfill equipped to handle hazardous material.”

In 2008, community development director Doug Powers informed the city commission that WHPacific, an Albuquerque engineering firm, recommended the demolition of the building for safety reasons.

Powers said an environmental assessment of the building revealed building materials which contained lead, mercury and asbestos.

Because of these hazardous materials, the city would have to observe special precautions and requirements during the demolition and removal of the building.

The city passed a resolution in 2007 to have the building demolished. The fact that it is still standing has Ruth Nelson, resident and owner of Pajarito Interiors, expressing concern. Pajarito Interiors is located next to the burned building.

“It is a safety issue,” Nelson said. “All you have to do is look at the building and you can see there is no roof and portions of the walls are beginning to crack.”

Nelson said her building suffered structural damage to the roof and adjoining wall as a result of the fire. She said she is unable to use a portion of her building for fear of the adjoining wall collapsing.

“It has been a nightmare,” Nelson said. “Three years and the building is still standing.”

Nelson said the wind is able to blow into the Sands Dorsey debris and can possibly pick up the asbestos. She said the other hazardous materials are slowly seeping into the ground as water and snow fall on the debris.

“The city’s water well is just two blocks away,” Nelson said. “That is a little too close for comfort.”

The city commission will meet Thursday night and one of the items slated for discussion during that meeting will be the demolition of the Sands Dorsey building, said city commissioner Robert Lumpkin.

“There are so many concerns about this building,” Lumpkin said. “It has become a real albatross which has surrounded Tucumcari.”

Lumpkin said the lack of funding from the state has presented a problem with the building demolition. He said he and the other commissioners have asked Bobbye Rose to explore all avenues of funding again.

“My approach to this matter has been to do everything and anything possible to get it done,” Lumpkin said.

Lumpkin said he would like to find a source of funding that would allow the commission to demolish the building while not placing the burden on the taxpayers’ shoulders.

“There has been discussion of increasing the gross receipts tax,” Lumpkin said. “We would certainly like to complete this without having the residents having to pay for it through taxes.”

Lumpkin said one option would be to approach the residents and ask them to approve the reallocation of taxes collected for the purchase of Ute Lake water.

“This is not a new tax,” Lumpkin said. “These funds already exist and have been collected.”

Lumpkin said the funds are set aside in the event that the city must purchase water from Ute Lake. He said the funds would be used for the infrastructure to pump and transport the water from the lake to Tucumcari.

“We could use the money to demolish and clean up that area,” Lumpkin said. “Once that is done the funds would revert back to their original purpose.”

The next Tucumcari City Commission meeting is at 6 p.m., Thursday at city hall.