A hearing on the Sands-Dorsey building came to a brief standstill Thursday before the City Commission.
Interim city manager Mike Cherry reported that the city’s attorney had informd him only two hours before that the city did not have to conduct the hearing. The city also had consulted with the attorney representing the building’s owner, Cherry said.
Building owner Robert Hengstenberg, who attended the meeting, said he would have to confer with his attorney.
However, citizens attending the meeting asked to be allowed to comment on the building. Some spoke in favor of restoring and saving the building, while others said it should be razed.
The two-story brick building was extensively damaged in a fire in June 2007.
Artist and muralist Doug Quarles said it was ironic that earlier in the day, Gov. Bill Richardson was talking about preserving Tucumcari’s historic downtown, and that later on that same day the commission was talking about tearing down one of the last historic buildings in downtown.
Don Schutte, who is co-owner of the building adjacent to the Sands-Dorsey, said the burned out building’s foundation has been undermined and that the building contains hazardous materials such as friable asbestos that is a danger to the public.
The commission said it would continue with its previous resolution to seek disposal of the building and put out a request for proposals on how much it would cost to demolish the building.
That process will take some time, which will allow the building’s owner to provide the city with an alternative, the commissioners said.
In the meantime, the owner of the building can review an engineering study paid for by the city that states the building is a hazard and other reports evaluating the building, said Commissioner Jim Lafferty.
Hengstenberg has said he wanted to save the building.
Lafferty said the city does not own the building and it cannot take action to seek grants to preserve and fix the building.
City commissioners also said they have to be concerned about public safety and the building’s current condition affects public safety.
Following the meeting on the Sands-Dorsey building, the commission held a workshop to discuss the city budget and its legislative priorities.
Top on the city’s list is seeking funds to complete water and sewer projects.
l $1.2 million for design, equip and construct the water system improvements.
l $6.7 million to plan, design, equip and construct improvements at the wastewater treatment facility.
l $1.9 million to plan, design, equip and construct landfill facilities.