McCOOK, Nebraska -- It may be too late to save West Ward, but the City Council should keep historic preservation in mind in the future, a McCook man involved in just such efforts told the council Monday.
At a hearing about the proposed demolition, Gene Morris, who introduced himself as a citizen of McCook, said that the recent demolition of the Romanoff building at Norris and B "created a cavity at a critical juncture in our town."
Morris, field representative for Heritage Nebraska, executive director of the Fox Theatre and former Gazette publisher, complimented the Keystone building project and the increase in value that structure has realized as a result of its renovation.
"Adaptive reuse" of vintage buildings is economical in almost every case, he said, in the case of the Keystone, "for 3.5 million you get a structure worth at least 10 million."
Prior to the hearing, the council mailed letters to 58 McCook citizens whose signatures were contained on a petition of 77 signatures that desired the building to be rehabilitated.
Dale Cotton told council members that once the building had been established on the historical register, it would be eligible for funding that would not be available for a new structure.
"Mold and all that means nothing; that comes out. The steel beams and brick [exterior] make it a nice building," said Cotton.
Before those two spoke, City Manager Kurt Fritsch presented a slideshow of images displaying mold and other deterioration in the building. Fritsch said additional asbestos had been discovered within the ceiling tiles, window caulking and other areas, saying "The building has outlived its life expectancy, it's not just a matter of opinion. Three different engineers and the State Historical Society earlier this year have all expressed that."