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City reconsiders Creswell House

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By Kellie Parkin

The Cedar Key Commission is reconsidering its decision last month regarding the Chamber of Commerce’s request to use the city-owned Creswell House.

The structure, located on 2nd Street next to the Cedar Key Library, is in dire need of repair, according to Commissioner Scott Dennison. “It needs a comprehensive inspection by a licensed professional,” he said. Dennison’s preliminary assessment reports water damage, paint decay, mold, mildew, plumbing issues, termite damage, and broken stairs.

Commissioner Gene Hodges said he never voted yes or no on purchasing it the $350,000 property. He says the mayor at the time told him that it wasn’t the house the City wanted, but the property because it’s adjacent to other city property.

Scott Dennison said at last month’s meeting that he was sorry to turn down the chamber’s request. “Before anything were to happen, I would need a detailed renovation plan to see how we could make it safe, healthy, and occupyable,” he said.

Commissioners readdressed the issue Tuesday after receiving the Building Inspector’s Report of the Creswell House, stating that the main concerns are mold, termites, and lack electricity. The commission briefly discussed the options of tearing the building down or fixing it up for use.

Community members attending the commission meeting voiced concerns about the house. “If the building is torn down, then it’s replacement would have to be up on stilts,” said Vanessa Edmunds. “I think you should fix it.”

Commissioner Sue Colson agreed. “We are a city of old buildings… I think we should be reasonable,” she said.

Gene Hodges disagreed. “We are going to be liable for whoever goes in there – we need to make sure it’s safe,” Hodges said.

Colson and Hodges took a few minutes to verbally spar with each other until Mayor Heath Davis reined them in.

“We can dissect it to death or we can use a little common sense and get on with it,” Davis said.

Scott Dennison added one additional concern. “We may be forced into some requirement that the building is ADA compliant,” he said.

The commission agreed that they wanted to work something out with the Chamber and that a detailed plan would be needed to address the termites, electricity, and mold.