“We unfortunately didn’t know when presentations were going on in order to make it on one of those occasions,” Rhonda “Chondie” Martin, Reagor’s fiancée, said at the Tuesday meeting. “The other (meeting), Ken was having surgery.”
A temporary restraining order issued by 424th District Court Judge Evan Stubbs on Dec. 1 stopped a planned demolition on Dec. 4. Reagor and the city of Burnet agreed during a recess of a Dec. 14 hearing in Stubbs’ courtroom to meet one last time in council chambers to discuss the building’s fate. That meeting was Tuesday night.
Councilors convened as the Dangerous Buildings Board of Appeals before moving forward with the meeting.
Martin opened her presentation with her immediate plans to “secure the building.”
“That is our number one priority,” she said. “The last thing we want is for anyone to get hurt.”
She said she then intended to engage with local and state historical societies to find ways to restore the structure through grant funding.
“It’s going to be a wonderful addition to the community,” Martin said. “It’ll have some museum aspects with information about the people who made up the history of the building, but it will also be an art gallery and a way for local artists to showcase their work and a venue for art and culture.”
Rachel Bryson, chairwoman of the Burnet County Historical Commission, spoke to the value of the structure’s location and its potential positive impact if restored.
“It’s not that it’s sitting back in the back part of Burnet somewhere,” she said. “It’s on (U.S) 281. It’s something that everybody can see.”
She requested councilors hold off on a decision for another six weeks to allow members of the Texas Historical Commission to view the property.
“I just don’t want to see Burnet make a mistake,” Bryson said.
Mayor Gary Wideman expressed doubts about restoration because of damage to the mortar between the building’s granite stones.
“I can tell you that it’s fractured,” he said. “You would literally probably have to take (the building) apart stone by stone and rebuild it back up. I guarantee it.”
Martin was unable to provide a timeline for how long the process to restore the structure would take.
“It depends on funding and timing,” she said.
She also failed to supply a cost estimate for the project.
“I have no way of knowing at this point how much money we’re talking,” she said.
Councilor Dennis Langley challenged the property owner’s ability to acquire enough funding for the project.
“There’s no guarantee that you’re going to get that funding,” he said.
Safety was another major concern for councilors.
“That tall fence (on the property) is not enough to keep kids out,” Langley said. “It’s still a danger. Until you can afford the money to shore that building up, it’s still a danger. If a kid goes in there and gets crushed, who do you think they’re going to come after?”
A historic tree on the premises will be preserved.
“We’ve never addressed removal of the tree,” Police Chief Brian Lee said. “We have gotten a quote on the demolition and remediation (of the building), but the quote has nothing to do with the tree. It’s simply the building. It leaves the asphalt and foundation.”