A structure declared to be an imminent danger by the City of Arkansas City’s building official was torn down on July 21.
Neighborhood Services Superintendent Richard Brown brought concerns about the structure to the City Commission during its meeting July 19.
The structure was located at 1225 N. Second St. Brown showed pictures of the building beginning to collapse into its basement and break apart.
“Everybody’s saving money but me, unfortunately,” Brown joked, a reference to City Manager Nick Hernandez’s prior presentation of all the 2016 budget cuts.
The structure was brought to Hernandez’s attention last December, when Brown anticipated the foundation’s collapse.
Because the structure was such a danger, he had two options in moving forward with demolition.
The first option was for the commission to go through the regular bidding process, including holding a public hearing regarding the structure. This process would take at least 60 to 90 days to complete.
The other option was for Brown to declare the structure an imminent danger and have it removed as soon as possible.
Fire Chief Bobby Wolfe informed the commissioners that the structure was too far gone, even for training purposes.
Ultimately, the commission chose to direct Brown to move forward with the faster route. The structure was torn down two days later. It was not immediately clear how the demolition would be funded.
Brown has been working diligently to rid the city of dangerous structures since his hire, but his efforts have been hampered by a lack of available funding.
The Neighborhood Services Division’s annual budget of $75,000 was reduced to just $25,000 in 2016, which only allowed for the destruction of three homes despite the use of city labor and the Public Works Department’s excavator to tear them down. The majority of the cost is for tipping fees at the county landfill.
Last December, the commission declared the following buildings to be dangerous structures:
- 203 E. Madison Ave.
- 310 North C St. (since demolished)
- 703 N. Third St. (since demolished)
- 716 S. Seventh St. (since demolished)
- 1011 South A St.
- 1221 S. Third St.
- 1313 South J St.
- 1818 N. Sixth St.
The large structure at 606 S. Summit St. also was condemned at that time, but the cost to hire Wichita-based Bradburn Wrecking to tear it down ended up being around $85,000. The demolition was authorized only after commissioners elected to delay $92,000 in elevator improvements at City Hall until 2017.
The current draft of the 2017 budget has $75,000 being allocated for demolitions. City officials also discussed during a budget retreat last month the possibility of finding alternate sources for teardowns, including the possibility of diverting some sanitation funds to pay the tipping fees.