With speculation since February as to what would happen to the two burned out buildings on Oklahoma Avenue, some details were revealed Tuesday evening at the city council meeting.
In February, a fire destroyed the Double Stop Fiddle Shop & Music Hall and the adjacent Furrow Flowers & Gifts located at 117 and 121 E. Oklahoma. Related article: Flames destroy historic downtown buildings
The buildings are owned by Byron Berline, who is known world-wide for playing the fiddle.
The 44-minute public meeting revealed a couple of options that can take place, including the preferred option of restoration and rehabilitation of the historic buildings by Berline or a private investor(s). The other option given was demolition of the buildings by either Berline or the City.
In the meantime, the City has leased and installed a temporary fence around the buildings to secure the perimeter. An invoice was sent to Berline for $2,461.52 and will be a re-occurring cost if the fence remains in place.
Council member James Long questioned the lack of payment on the fencing multiple times throughout the meeting.
“I expect that current, outstanding invoice for the fencing be paid for by private dollars and the City no longer floating that,” Long said.
Carol Hirzel, who has questioned and spoke on several City issues in the past, responded in the audience by saying, “hey, I’ll pay it.”
Abigail Ropp and Hirzel questioned why the public notice was necessary.
Council member Don Channel responded, “This hearing is happening (because) we’ve seen zero proposals, zero anything from anybody. I keep hearing we stabilize, we this, we that but who is we and where are they. That’s why we have to do this meeting because there is no proposal.”
Ropp informed council members of some of the work that has taken place, including dollar amounts to shore up (stabilize) and clean the buildings. Ropp stated an individual has come forward to pay for the restoration within the last few days.
“As far as a plan goes, we can definitely put one together,” Ropp said.
Hirzel added, “is it clear now that we have money to do the bracing and the debris clean up?”
Mayor Steve Gentling said, “we have heard there is an individual who is willing to step forward and do that.”
“That’s us. Jeff and Carol Hirzel are spearheading it. We are ready to go,” Hirzel said of the two groups Save Our Depot (Sod) Foundation and the Logan County Historical Society.
The Sod group, in the care name of Carol Hirzel, is an organization which receives a substantial part of its support from a governmental unit or the general public.
Berline told the council the group has his permission to move forward with the restoration.
“I want this building to be resurrected if all possible,” Berline told the council members. Betty (Berline) and I can’t afford to do it. We want to keep going. That is why we bought another building straight east (211 E. Oklahoma Ave.). I hate to see it demolished, but if it has to be that’s what it would be.”
Susan Guthrie Dunham asked the council for 30 days to allow “a firm bid and a firm commitment for the stabilization.”
Council member Gaylord Z. Thomas agreed on the additional days
“That’s the motion we have been looking for. Someone is committed to do something and if they can do it within 30 days then we may know where we are at.”
The council voted 5-0 for the additional 30 days.
Related article: Watch: Up close view of Byron Berline’s safes rescued, opened