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Historic Butler house will be razed

‘No feasible or prudent alternative to demolition’

Staff writer

Peabody City Council reviewed correspondence Monday night between the city and Kansas Historic Preservation Officer Patrick Zollner in regards to the fate of the Butler house on the corner of Sycamore and Second streets.

The city, which owns the property, had contacted Zollner to indicate the condition had deteriorated to the point where the city had no choice but to pursue demolition of the building.

The final decision about the future of the building belonged to the council and the members voted unanimously to raze the building because there are “no feasible and prudent alternatives to the demolition of the Butler house … within the environs of the Peabody Downtown Historic District.”

After discussion, council members tabled any action to create demolition specifications and seek bids until the next meeting. Peabody Economic Development Director Shane Marler was ill and unable to attend the meeting.

“I don’t think we can pursue this or vote on the next step without Marler’s input,” Councilman David Scott said.

“The information from the state indicates we need a plan for the future of the lot before we can proceed,” Councilman Tom Schmidt said. “There also are some architectural features that might be saved from the structure and foundation. I agree we need to wait.”

City Administrator Mac Manning will review the issue with Marler and put it on the next agenda.

In a related item later in the meeting, the council unanimously approved a request from Peabody Historical Society member Marilyn Jones to add the horse racing track and the WPA sports complex to an application for historic designation. Already approved by the state of Kansas is the floral exhibition hall, known locally as “the round house.”

“I think the exercise we just went through with the Butler house proves that as long as we go through steps approved by the state, the council retains the final say in future of our historic properties,” Schmidt said. “The added designations will mean greater publicity for the park and possibly more funding sources.”

In other business:

  • An agreement between the city and Peabody Main Street was approved, which spells out how the two groups will work together to take advantage of PMSA’s non-profit status in the development of the Baker buildings. The city attorney reviewed the contract prior to the meeting.
  • Bids will be obtained for golf disc signage at the city park.
  • Beth Peter made a proposal to the council to cut expenses at the swimming pool by closing daily at 5 p.m. rather than 6 p.m., opening at 3 p.m. on Saturdays rather than 1 p.m., and serving as lifeguard for swim team rather than having another guard come. The reductions will reduce pool expenses by 10 percent as requested by the city finance committee.
  • Caleb Good of W. E. Avery Insurance Agency addressed the council about a premium increase in the city’s insurance coverage with Travelers. Manning said EMC Insurance asked for a chance to submit a quote for coverage as well. Council will make a determination at the March 28 meeting.
  • Peabody Health and Safety Officer Tammy Whiteside presented an update on nuisance properties and informed the council that she is creating a list of additional violators.
  • Manning reported he and Police Chief Bruce Burke attended graduation exercises March 4 for Justin Weerts from Kansas Law Enforcement Training Center.
  • Discussion about placement of stop signs at the city park exits resulted in a request for Burke to monitor traffic at the gates and come back with a recommendation. At issue are the stone gateposts obscuring the signs as vehicles head east out of the park. Drivers are inadvertently running the stop signs.
  • The streets and alleys committee met with Jim Ralston of APAC and reviewed the schedule of street repairs for 2011. An additional meeting will take place before selected repairs are approved.
  • Peabody Economic Development Committee recommended the council abate utility costs for the HUB for an additional year. PEDC also recommended this be the final year for such an abatement unless the HUB board of directors hold regularly scheduled meetings as required by their 501(c)3 designation.

Last modified March 17, 2011

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