Nearly two years after the collapse of the rear portion of a two-story building on the Monticello town square, an insurance company has settled with the property owner allowing her to pay off her mortgage and move forward with her idea to donate the property to an individual or an organization interested in restoring it.

Last month the Monticello City Council authorized Mayor Allen Maxwell to advertise for bids to raze the building. The city received no bids.

Part of the reason, according to City Attorney Whit Barton, is that the city’s bid specifications required the abatement and proper disposition of any environmentally sensitive materials but the city had no report showing what environmentally sensitive materials the contractors might encounter so that they could factor that into their bids.

Barton said one engineering firm told him that such a report would cost about $4,000.

“That $4,000 is not, of course, going to get the building torn down,” Barton said. “It’s just going to get us in the position to where we can actually receive bids.”

Russell Herren of South Arkansas Construction, Inc., a contractor hired by McKiever to inspect the structure, estimated that it would cost about $10,000 to raze the building, $25,000 to $30,000 to enclose and strengthen the rear, open portion of the building, or more than $100,000 for “bare bones” renovations, including roof replacement and reconstructing the rear walls.

The rear wall that parallels the alley is triple bricked and is unlikely to collapse. Temporary bracing of the roof should secure the east wall. The rear portion of the still-standing structure should not collapse unless the roof collapsed, according to Herren’s report.

If the building is not rehabilitated it will continue to deteriorate, becoming more unsightly and dangerous, according to Herren’s report.

According to a letter from McKiever’s attorney Charles Sidney Gibson, McKiever will brace the building to prevent further collapse and attempt to neutralize any hazardous materials that might impede razing the structure at a reasonable cost. Herren’s report was attached to Gibson’s letter which Maxwell read to the city council Thursday night.

McKiever, who did not attend the city council meeting, told Seark Today in a phone interview Thursday night that she would like to donate the building to someone interested in restoring it. She said she would have already done so had the building not been mortgaged. She said she paid off the mortgage the first of August, after the insurance check cleared.

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