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City starts process to raze old opera house
new deh city update opera house pic
Contractors have begun looking at the old opera house at Forest and Williams as the process to raze it begins. There is no time line for the project yet. - photo by DALE HOGG Great Bend Tribune

Three bidders have had a peek inside the old opera house building at Forest and Williams, all eying the possibility of razing the beleaguered structure.
Great Bend City Attorney Bob Suelter obtained an administrative search warrant to allow City Inspector Lee Schneider access to the building, owned by David and Barbara Pitcock of Hays. This allowed bidders to look at it for demolition and complete an asbestos inspection.
City Administrator Howard Partington said there is no time line for the project as of yet. The cost of the work will be borne by the city and charged back to the Pitcock’s taxes.
It was discussed earlier that it is not just a matter of tearing the building down. The adjoining building shares a wall and it may also be damaged during the work. It would need to be repaired to maintain its structural integrity.
Late last year, large chucks of brick and mortar tumbled off the back of the opera house, rendering it unsafe to occupy. Then, in March, the Council set deadlines for either the preservation or demolition.
The council approved a resolution giving the Pitcocks until late March to find a contractor and until Aug. 21 to have the building stabilized or razed. The owners took no action, so the city got involved.
Partington’s report on the building was part of his departmental update given to the City Council Monday night. Other highlights included:
 Public Works
• Painted parking lot west of City Hall
• Sanitarian: 687 year to date complaints, 132 new locates in last five weeks (53 by citizens and 79 by staff), 120 complaints completed by citizens, 14 abatement notices sent, 13 abatements performed and 24 vehicles into compliance.
• Officer Jefferson Davis held the Youth Academy reunion at the Walnut Bowl
• Schneider is reviewing plans for the AT&T building remodel (the former Blockbuster building) and The Reserves at Trail Ridge Apartment Complex (the income-qualified apartments on Grant Street across from Walmart).
• Started recruit training for two firefighters.
• With the help of the Park Department the burn building (to be used to simulate fire situations) at Fire Station 2 is almost complete. It should be ready to use for the recruit training.
• Summer Street Stroll’s have been going well this year, said Community Coordinator Christina Hayes. There is a Senior Nutrition Program ran through the Barton County Health Department that basically gives better access to Fresh Fruits and vegetables. A big piece of why the market is successful is because of this program and only being able to utilize that incentive at our market, and also because we are the only evening option.
• Hayes said the Retail Roundtable meetings are still being held, the last one was on July 9 and these been a great opportunity for retailers to gather together and make decisions on what needs to happen for Great Bend retail and how the she  can assist in getting people into the local stores.
• The third outdoor movie of the summer took place on June 17. Dirty Dancing was shown and the next movie will take place Aug. 14 and the movie will be All Dogs Go to Heaven.
• Christina has also been working on the planning of the second-annual Party in the Park.
• Partington attended the Barton County Commission meeting Monday morning and the commissioners passed along their appreciation for the City Council’s willingness to share in the cost of the traffic control at the work to be done on the bridge west of the city on 10th Street.
• Partington has been working on the breakdown of the council’s top priority goals into working groups so staff members can team up council members to begin to address the issues.