The Mexico Beach City Council on Tuesday began the physical task of constructing its new city hall.
During a special meeting the council voted to demolish the existing Parker House structure.
“The city is putting itself in a civil liability,” said Councilman Gary Woodham. “It’s an eyesore and it’s no longer needed.”
The demolition will be completed by Cathey Construction but no date has been set.
Woodham also made a motion requesting use of funds for attorney costs set at a maximum of $3,000 to explore additional litigation opportunities against the insurance company responsible for the claim on the Parker House.
The motion passed in a 3-1 vote with Councilwoman Tanya Castro dissenting and Mayor Al Cathey passing the chair to Jack Mullen due to Cathey Construction’s involvement in the project.
During an executive session held last week, Woodham expressed a desire to meet with an attorney, but had not put a price tag on the visits.
Castro strongly opposed the motion, unsure that it was a wise use of the city’s money, and preferred that the council read over the contracts themselves.
“I’m not saying that I’m going to spend it, I just want to be authorized,” said Woodham. “I won’t spend a dime more than I have to.”
Woodham said that he planned to meet with an attorney specializing in insurance cases as early as this week.
During February’s official meeting Mullen shared news that after a two-year battle, they’d finally been offered a settlement on the historic Park House which caught fire in 2011, several days after being purchased by the city.
At the time, the council held off a formal vote on accepting the offer in order to hold last week’s executive session to explore options.
The city originally paid $429,000 for the house and five-acre property and received more than $660,000 in damages. More than $140,000 was spent in rent and upkeep costs on the damaged building, leaving just $485,000 to build a new city hall.
The insurance company has offered a settlement of $174,000 for the remaining damages.
The council made plans to raze the structure and build a new city hall elsewhere on the property, but feared demolishing the house until the insurance case was closed.