The Parker House insurance battle is finally winding down.
After more than two years of back and forth with the insurance company over the Parker House, Councilman Jack Mullen revealed at last week’s pre-agenda meeting that an offer of $174,000 has been received for the remaining damages.
In the two years since the initial insurance payment of more than $660,000 was received, the city spent $140,000 in rent and upkeep on the burnt out building, leaving just $485,000 to build a new city hall.
If the council decides to accept the offer, it will have $659,000 to put toward construction. As soon as a vote is reached, the council will let Cathey Construction know how and when to proceed with the new city hall.
Plans for the new building have already been finalized and the construction will take place on a different site of the Parker property.
“That’s where we stand,” said Mullen. “We can accept their offer and then no more dealing with the insurance company.”
The council held an executive session on Wednesday, to negotiate a final number with Cathey Construction on building costs.
That session delayed any voting from taking place at the monthly regular meeting held on Tuesday.
The Parker House caught fire just days after being purchased by the city in 2011 for use as a new city hall.
After the initial payment for fire damages, the council pushed for additional compensation when a foundation analysis and soil borings completed by Cathey Construction deemed the slab of the house unusable for rebuilding.
Unconvinced, the insurance company sent an engineer of their own out for analysis and delivered a conflicting opinion.
The city decided to get a third party opinion and hired Nova Engineering and Environmental from Panama City to conduct an additional structural analysis.
Nova’s analysis came back in November and recommended that the Parker House foundation not to be reused. The report suggested that the existing foundation be removed and anything built on the site would need deep foundation pilings.
Mullen pointed out that Nova’s report prominently said, “Do not build on it,” with the words both bolded and underlined.
As negotiations dragged on through last year, citizens regularly called for the council to make a decision and for progress to continue on the new city hall.
In his short time on the council, Gary Woodham has also been a proponent of moving forward on the project regardless of the insurance claim outcome.
During the council’s regular meeting on Tuesday, Councilman Bobby Pollock, responded to Candice Burgess’ call for “decency, civility and respect in government” at January’s meeting.
Pollock directly addressed Burgess’ statement and those citizens who stood in support, saying that he was all for fairness and working together, but resented members of the council being referred to as “liars, dishonest and corrupt” over the past two years.
“I would love to work with the people,” said Pollock. “But sweep under your own doorsteps before you come into mine.”