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Options for Vacant Buildings Discussed by the County

Former SOS Building, Looking North

Former SOS Building, Looking North

One vacant, county-owned building, the WPA properties on East Maple Street, was recently sold to a private buyer. The Prowers County Commissioners are discussing the fate or future of two other long-vacant structures, the former SOS building in the 200 block of East Elm Street and the Journey Building which is eight miles south of town, near the former AT&T building.

Even into the mid-1990s, the SOS facility was in steady use by local senior citizens as their headquarters for social events and dances, but at that point it was past its prime. After their new building on East Olive Street was constructed, the former center saw only limited use by various organizations such as Project HOPE or to house some local auctions.  The commissioners are looking to either save it, sell it or level it and will weigh cost options before making a decision.  One concern is the level of asbestos content.  Commissioner Ron Cook said he’d like Keith Siemsen, the director of Land and Environment, to check on costs for its removal.  “It would be nice if we could remodel it for the space it would provide, but there’s potential asbestos in the ceiling and roof and the house in front would have to be separated as well,” he stated.  Commissioner Buxton-Andrade favors leveling it.  The Journey Building needs to be cleared of any unwanted materials and an assessment on its value and potential sales revenue will be evaluated.

The commissioners discussed other projects with Kirk Powers, Building Operations Supervisor, during their July 25th meeting.  The condition of the fairgrounds arena is still a concern prior to the Sand and Sage Fair.  Barrel racing events have been scheduled for this weekend, and the arena will be re-graded and put back in order for the first weekend in August which will feature bull-riding competition on the 5th.  Powers stated he expected to have paperwork in hand to review proposals and drawings for drainage of rain water from the Annex parking lot.  He said he’d present his findings to the commissions in the next 30 days about controlling and directing the water runoff onto Cedar Street.

Restoration work on the ceiling on the 3rd floor courtroom is expected to last eight weeks and will be completed by mid-September into October.  The restoration firm was in town recently, taking material samples from the ceiling, as well as making stencils to duplicate artwork.  The sidewalk, curb and gutter work on the north side of the courthouse is complete.  Powers stated, “When we got to the area around the flagpole, we dug to the original concrete that’s 4-5 inches thick, and found that it must have sunk, as there’s a two inch overlay on top which, when it settled, caused some of the cracking and flaking we’re now repairing.”  He said the granite portions of the original work will not be touched.  There’s more work to be done on the road as this week the city will remove the asphalt surface and put down a new layer on Thursday and have it and the east side road striped on Friday.  The work on the east side parking lot won’t resume until August 22nd as the City of Lamar has other roadwork commitments until then.

HVAC work is needed in the court house; particularly the 3rd floor courtroom and asbestos coating of the pipes that connect the first through third floors from the boiler may need to be stripped.  A firm will look at the infrastructure for a determination of the scope of the project.  Four portable refrigerator coolers may need to be purchased to cool the third floor offices and courtroom and additional electric power sources may need to be rerouted from the second to the third floor.  The commissioners are considering the costs of a long-term commitment to remedy the heat and cool air solutions for the building.

Dee Melgosa, a trustee on the Bristol-Granada Cemetery Board, asked the commissioners to looking into financing for a sprinkler system for the cemeteries. “We had only one response for bids and that was at $32,000 for the project.  We have a private commitment of $10,000 which leaves us to fund the balance.  The Trustees wanted to know if we could hold fund-raising events to make up the balance,” she explained.  Melgosa said the costs would cover a new casing for a water pump and a booster.  “Fundraisers would be the best way to go,” explained Commissioner Schnabel, who suggested that if the county funded one such request, the other districts would expect financial assistance.  “But they all do need it,” replied Melgosa.    She asked if there were some state organizations which could provide assistance.  The commissioners said they would find a contact from the Department of Local Affairs who could provide some guidance and would discuss her request during the upcoming county budget talks.  Melgosa also requested help from the county with paving and/or grading the roads leading into the cemeteries.

By Russ Baldwin

Filed Under: City of GranadaCity of LamarCountyEconomyFeaturedPublic SafetyUtilities

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