Engineers need to inspect the Parker House before business can resume at Momma’s West Main Cafe, Mayor Justin Harsha told restaurant co-owner Jeretta Barr during Monday’s Hillsboro City Council meeting.
With emotion in her voice, Barr told city officials Momma’s had been closed for 15 days, and that the business had lost food, sales and income for 13 people.
“As of today, we’ve been closed 15 days, with no end in sight,” Barr said. “… We’ve got bills coming in, no money coming in. We have a revolving loan payment due the 15th. We have electric. We have water. We’ve already paid our rent. We have our phone bills. That’s just to name some of the bills. We understand there’s been delays, and we really appreciate the conservation, you know, not going with a wrecking ball. But every day we’re closed, we’re losing.”
Barr said Harsha has been good about responding to their questions, but that unless they ask, they’re not hearing anything from the city or their landlord.
Harsha said the business could not reopen until engineers, working for the owner of the Parker House, inspect and approve the building for habitation. He said city officials talked with the engineers late last week and again Monday, and told the engineers they could inspect the building, but that the engineers had not indicated when that will happen. He said the engineers want to see the exterior of the west wall of the Parker House, where debris from the demolition of the Parker Hotel was still blocking the view Monday.
Hillsboro Safety and Service Director Brianne Abbott said the debris should be gone in a couple days.
When demolition of the Parker House commenced on Feb. 24, the city said its hope was that nearby businesses would only be closed for two or three days. But unforeseen delays, including issues with the wall shared by the former Parker Hotel and the Parker House, have delayed Momma’s reopening.
“There are a few days left of cleanup on the lot,” Abbot said. “We’re excited to have this public nuisance and safety issue abated. Thank you to the citizens, property and business owners for their patience through this process as we work diligently to do everything in our power to remove this structure as safely as possible.”
The mayor noted that Hillsboro Public Works Superintendent Shawn Adkins and others worked late a few evenings in preparation for the demolition, likely cutting two or three days off the project.
In other business, Abbott said the city was awarded a $150,000 grant for recreational trails for a proposed pedestrian bridge to connect Shaffer and Liberty parks.
Council voted 5-0 to approve an emergency resolution authorizing Abbott to enter into an agreement with Stantec Consulting Services Inc. for services related to what is being called the Moberly Branch Phase One Project.
Stantec will provide design, engineering and supervision of the bidding process for $66,000 for the pedestrian bridge and trail.
Abbott also said construction is ongoing for a fountain in front of the Highland County Courthouse. She said brick work should begin this week and the project is expected to be completed by Memorial Day.
There are also plans for a community garden, walking trails and butterfly garden at Liberty Park’s Harmony Lake area. Abbott said anyone interested in volunteering for those projects should attend the committee’s next meeting at 5 p.m. Wednesday, March 18. Those interested can also visit the city’s Facebook page for details.
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522.