Rock building fate is unclear

Published 3:00 am Saturday, March 26, 2016

Between a rock and a hard place is where the Pike County Commission has found itself since the Rock Building in downtown Troy was damaged by fire in the mid-1990s.

The fire displaced the Pike County Extension Office, the Pike County Board of Education and the Pike County Veterans Administration Office. The Pike Activities Building or, the Rock Building as it is commonly called, has remained vacant for about 20 years and time and the elements have taken their toll on the historic structure. The Rock Building was a 1937 Works Progress Administration project. It was dedicated on July 12, 1939.

The Pike County Commission, citing the lack of funds over the years to preserve the building, recently put it up for sale by bid. The deadline for bids was 2 p.m. Tuesday. Only one bid was submitted. Charlie Bundy of Goshen bid $60,000 for the building, which he said he plans to preserve.

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The County Commission reserved the right to accept or reject all bids. A vote could be taken on whether to accept or reject Bundy’s bid at Monday night’s commission meeting.

Sherry Helms and her husband, David, spearheaded a grassroots effort in 2014 to raise the funds necessary to restore the building.

“We had hoped initially to raise enough money to put a roof on the building to prevent further damage,” Helms said. “The county commission has allocated $100,000 to the effort and around $16,000 has been donated.”

Helms said her understanding, from the commissioners, was that a government building could not be sold for less than its appraised value.

“The certified appraisal is $110,00,” Helms said. “The bid was $60,000. If what I was told is correct, then the bid would have to rejected.”

Helms said hopes are to see the building restored and she would be happy to see Bundy’s bid accepted if he has the financial resources necessary to do so.

“If not, I hope he will leave it alone,” she said. “I believe, with the money we have, we can raise enough money to get a roof on. That’s what we need to do right now.”

Commissioner Jimmy Barron, District 3, said he was somewhat surprised that there was only one bid for the building.

“I had several realtors call me about the building but nothing came from any of that,” he said. “My opinion is that we ought to go ahead and sell the building. I’d love to fix up the building be we don’t have the money to do it. If we sell it, we wouldn’t have the liability from that standpoint.”

Barron said he only has one vote and he doesn’t know what the other commissioners will do.

Commissioner Ray Goodson, District 4, has been a longtime advocate for the historic Rock Building but he said he has seen the handwriting on the wall.

“Back in 2001 and 2002, it was worth fixing but now it’s going to take a lot of money to fix it and we don’t have it,” Goodson said. “I was hoping we would get a higher bid, but it looks like that’s all we’re going to get.”

Commissioner Homer Wright, District 1, said he was not happy with the bid and he’s just one vote.

“I was hoping that we would get at least get what it was appraised for, but I’ll have to wait and see what the rest of the commissioners do,” he said.

Commissioner Robin Sullivan, District 2, said he has been thinking about the bid but hasn’t made up his mind. “I can say for sure that I would like to see someone get the building that is going to renovate it,” he said.

Commissioner Charlie Harris, District 5, said he thought the bid was a good one, but he too, has not made up his mind as to how he will vote.

“The county’s doesn’t have the money to fix it up and that’s the reason we put it up for sale,” Harris said. “I haven ‘t made up my mind yes or no, but I’ll know by Monday night.”

Commission Chairman Joey Jackson, District 6, was not available for comment.

The Pike County Commission will meet at 6 p.m. Monday night on the second floor of the Pike County Health Department. The meetings are open to the public.