Council still can’t decide on Cameo

Meeting ends for lack of quorum after no action

The decision about what will happen to the Cameo Building in downtown Rockdale is still up in the air.

An appeal by owner Gloria Thrasher to the Rockdale City Council at Monday’s regular meeting went unanswered. After a 20 minute public meeting on the matter, council members failed to take any action on the building.

Councilman Willie Phillips made a motion to proceed with the decision by the Building Standards Commission, but the motion failed for a lack of a second.

Phillips then had to leave the meeting to go to work, leaving the council without a quorum, as members Doug Calame and Melody Dawson were absent.

The item on the council agenda was moved to later in the meeting because council members wanted to wait on city attorney Michelle Lehmkuhl to arrive at the meeting.

The appeal comes after Rockdale’s Building Standards Commission has ordered the Cameo Building demolished for the second time.

On May 1, the board unanimously ordered owner Gloria Thrasher to secure the building within 14 days and demolish it within 30.

That’s the same order returned by the commission on March 6. Thrasher appealed that decision to the city council on April 8 and the council set aside the original decision and returned the matter to the commission.

Thrasher opted to appeal to the council a second time.

WHAT NOW—“The city attorney and I will have to sit down and see what we can do next,” Rockdale city manager Kelvin Knauf said.

Should the order from the Building Standards Commission stand, Thrasher could appeal to the 20th District Court, Knauf added.

Several members of the Milam County Historical Society were prepared to speak on the matter as well, but according to Lehmkuhl, only those who testified at the Building Standards Commission hearing could speak to the council, as deemed by a city ordinance.

Thrasher told the council that the longer the structure remains in its current condition, the longer it could take to fix it.

“The building is salvageable. The roof caved in because of water accumulation on the roof and had nothing to do with the walls collapsing,” Thrasher said. “Demolishing the facade of the building will effect the taller wall of the adjourning building (on the west side) and possibly cause a domino effect all the way down the street (to the east).”

During the public hearing on the matter, Thrasher asked the council if she could make a metal building inside to brace the walls and provide a roof so that no further damage occurs to what is left.

Council members could take three actions: send it back to the Building Standards commission; reverse the order or move on with the order.

COLLAPSE—The Cameo Building is viewed as the keystone to resolving damages to the downtown block involved when the firewall collapsed in stages Aug. 29 and 30, 2012.

The former Old Tyme Antiques building, next door to Cameo, remains vacant.

Cliff’s Tavern and Ram Optical re-opened following the wall collapse.

O’Barr Rost Insurance was in the process of moving across Main Street when the collapse occurred.

That move was completed the next day.

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