A Tucumcari resident appealed to the city commission Thursday night to make one more effort to save the remains of the Sands Dorsey building.
“Have we exhausted all avenues?” asked Don Falls. “Have we done everything to preserve an important part of downtown?”
To demolish the Sands Dorsey building, which was severely damaged by fire last summer, would be taking away another treasured landmark, Falls said. “There are not very many (landmarks) left for Tucumcari to hold on to or to pass on to future generations,” he said.
City commissioner and mayor pro tem, Jim Witcher, suggested that city staff explore the procedures and cost of selling bonds to generate capital to fix up the Sands Dorsey and other downtown buildings.
“The bottom line is money,” Witcher said.
If the citizens wanted to fix up the buildings, there is probably a way that it could be handled through bonds, with a small annual tax, Witcher said.
“The Sands Dorsey building was the McDonald’s of its day, and people have many fond memories of their time spent at the drug store fountain and its other shops,” Falls said.
Other small towns have redeveloped their downtown districts and made them appealing destination spots for tourists, and the same could happen in Tucumcari.
The Sands Dorsey, at 102-104 Main St., burned in June 2007 and part of its structure is being supported by metal rods anchored in the alleyway between South Second and South Third streets.
Neighboring retailers requested the city tear down the building because, they said, the building is unsafe, and that to have the alleyway blocked off by the metal supports is unsafe and inconvenient.
At the city commission’s March 27 meeting, the commissioners approved taking legal action to take ownership and demolish the building.
The city filed a lien on April 10 against the building’s owner Robert Hengstenberg to recover $7,170, the amount it cost the city to fence off the property.
Hengstenberg did not respond to phone calls on Friday to comment on the city’s action.
The city has requested proposals, which are due in early May, on the cost to demolish the Sands Dorsey building, said city manager John Sutherland.
In addition to making a plea to save the Sands Dorsey, Falls suggested that the city pay more attention to cleaning up Tucumcari because visitors and tourists notice boarded up buildings and vacant lots decorated with plastic bags and street gutters overgrown with weeds.
There doesn’t appear to be any uniformity in code enforcement, Falls said.
“It would make a better impression to see a clean downtown,” Falls said.
“There is no second chance at a first impression,” Falls said.
The commissioners took Falls’ comments under advisement and commissioner Robert Lumpkin told Falls that he appreciated his comments.
“There are no negative influences because of your comments,” said Lumpkin, who told Falls that he should not hesitate to come forward again to express his concerns to the commission.