The Parker House and vacant city clerk position were the main topics at last week’s Mexico Beach City Council workshop.

The Parker House and vacant city clerk position were the main topics at last week’s Mexico Beach City Council workshop.

The city purchased the Parker House in mid-2011 with plans to turn it into the new city hall. Currently, employees use a small refurbished bank building for all city hall operations.

Shortly after the building was purchased, electrical issues caused a fire that did significant damage to the structure, including a collapsed roof.

Initial repair estimates for the building were $323,000 though it was later determined that it wasn’t financially viable for the city to make the suggested repairs.

As talks between the construction and insurance companies went on, the cost continued to rise, first to $440,000 then to $660,070.

To-date the city has spent $140,000 on repairs and estimates it will take another $393,945 to complete the project.

Additional costs were incurred to bring the building up to commercial grade with updates to the electricity, windows and ventilation systems.

The council will speak with a structural engineer before proceeding further with the project.

The house holds significance for the community and was named after Charlie Parker who founded Mexico Beach in 1949. Parker was also the preacher at the city’s first church and became the first mayor of Mexico Beach.

The council also discussed the still-vacant city clerk position.

Applications had been accepted since the resignation of Sharon McGhee last month. The council had landed on five candidates that they were interested in bringing in for interviews.

While some candidates located in surrounding areas, others were as far away as Palm Coast, Chicago and even Minnesota.

The council immediately ran into roadblocks scheduling face-to-face interviews due to current job responsibilities of the candidates or the prohibitive costs of airfare with less than a week’s notice.

Councilman Jack Mullen made a motion to conduct phone interviews with strong candidates who were unable to travel to Mexico Beach, and then meet face-to-face with any candidates who showed potential.

The motion failed when the rest of the council voiced a common preference to only conduct face-to-face interviews.

Mayor Al Cathey said that he preferred to meet people in person, while Councilwoman Tanya Castro cited potential Sunshine law issues if phone interviews couldn’t be heard by the public.

Despite the difficulty in getting qualified candidates in the same room as the council, the group decided that they would attempt to schedule interviews for the following week.