What considerations did the City undertake in making the decision on the structure?
First of all, the City of Melissa is committed to preserving its past. Every attempt is made to ensure that future generations know and understand the rich history of our City. Knowing and honoring our past is a point of community pride, and the City’s elected officials and administration fully understand its significance and fully embrace it. Unfortunately, time has conspired to erode some of it. A prime example is the old pharmacy building on Red River and Cooper Streets.
The building has been deemed unsafe by the Melissa Fire Marshal because of its condition. In fact, the building is in such disrepair that the Fire Chief has ordered that firefighters should avoid even entering the building unless absolutely necessary. Our Fire Marshal, as in virtually every city, serves as our in-house expert on determinations of safety and security. We depend on his expertise to make what are virtually life-and-death decisions on structures. He inspected the structure in mid-2023.
The Fire Marshal determined that the roof has been completely compromised to the point that rainwater has infiltrated its walls over the years, making the structure extremely unstable and dangerous. Based on the rapid deterioration of the roof structure, the large holes in the roof and walls, and the evidence of a previous fire in the building, the Fire Marshal recommended demolishing the building. Importantly, as mentioned above, the Fire Department was ordered to not make entry into the building unless absolutely necessary.
Was there any attempt to salvage any portion of the building?
An idea was floated about salvaging and reclaiming the bricks and demolishing the inner structure. In researching this possibility, a cost estimate was solicited and received from a construction company that specializes in this undertaking. The estimate was over $170,000 to complete the work with no certainty as to how much could be salvaged. It was deemed cost-prohibitive.
Nevertheless, the City was able to save a portion of the bricks, the steel pole that was on the front entry, and the iron grate at the front door. These elements may be used in the future redevelopment of the site or used as inspiration for the architecture of the redevelopment. The City will also deliver a load of the bricks to the coordinator of the historical society for their future use.
Other city buildings in the Downtown Overlay Direct, including the Barker House, have been broken into and vandalized at least twice over the summer. A more elaborate public awareness campaign was contrary to public safety because we did not want anyone to attempt to enter the building due to its condition.