Pine Bluff Mayor Debe Hollingsworth gave an update Tuesday on measures related to recovering from the collapse of the former Band Museum and VFW Post buildings.

Pine Bluff Mayor Debe Hollingsworth gave an update Tuesday on measures related to recovering from the collapse of the former Band Museum and VFW Post buildings.


Hollingsworth said she will have city attorney Althea Hadden-Scott contact Joe Meadors, the owner of a vacant building near Robert English’s Mid South Music Store. Hollingsworth said the city is seeking permission to enter Meadors building to see its condition.


Meadors was also the owner of a building at 401 Main St. in Pine Bluff that partially collapsed in February 2014. The collapse ruptured a nearby natural gas line and disrupted train and automobile traffic while leading to an extended shutdown of the street between Fourth and Fifth avenues. No one was injured and officials later determined that debris from that incident had produced minor damage to a nearby store building, which also is unoccupied, The Commercial reported at the time.


The police and fire departments responded along with personnel from the city’s street and inspection and zoning departments. Workers from Entergy Corp. and the Centerpoint Energy gas company also reported to the scene.


In February 2014 the city performed an emergency stabilization demolition of 401 Main St. building at Fourth Avenue and Main Street. Meadows paid for the rest of the cleanup and later reimbursed the city, Hollingsworth has previously told The Commercial.


After the meeting Tuesday, Hollingsworth said that Pine Bluff Assistant Fire Marshal Randy Compton will be assessing the integrity of about 107 buildings in an area around Main Street between Barraque Street and Harding Avenue and Pine Street to State Street. Hollingsworth said that she is looking to take an inventory as a precursor to revitalization of downtown Pine Bluff.


"This is a first step toward laying the groundwork for a revitalization," Hollingsworth said. "… We will maintain the historical flavor of downtown. First we will do a physical inspection of all buildings downtown and look at their outside and inside. We will know the conditions."


Hollingsworth said there are obstacles such as building owners who live out-of-state.


"We will have to prove there is an immediate need to obtain a warrant to enter the building," Hollingsworth said. "Our assistant fire marshal Randy Compton is assessing the integrity of the buildings. We may need to bring in a structural engineer. In that case we will persuade a property owner to pay for a structural engineer."


"I do not know that an inspection of this type has been done in our city," Hollingsworth said. "Randy Compton is conducting the assessments. He knows what to look for. He is consistent, thorough, knowledgeable and expedient. This is a part we can do in-house before we get to the point of bringing in a consultant."


Hollingsworth said she will interview consultants extensively, ask how they have improved other cities in the way of revitalization. Revitalization coincides with a three- to five-year plan, Hollingsworth said.


"I have two consultants in mind," Hollingsworth said. "I hope to find someone to pay for the underwriting of a consultant who can understand the dynamics of our downtown."


In other news the Pine Bluff Development and Planning Committee gave a due pass recommendation Tuesday regarding the city selling two parcels of vacant land.


Pine Bluff Inspection and Zoning Department Code Enforcement Officer Mitzi Ruth said the city owns two vacant lots at 5814 W. Fifth Ave. The city does not want to keep parcels of land that it does not use, Ruth said.


She provided documentation in which she stated that these vacant properties do not have any liens against them.


"Word is getting out about land being for sale," Ruth said.


Pine Bluff resident Tekila Jackson wrote a letter offering to buy the two properties for a total of $700.


"I will assure the city of Pine Bluff if my bid is accepted, I will have the land cleared and maintained," Jackson wrote in the letter.


Development and Planning Committee Aldermen Charles Boyd and Lloyd Holcomb Jr. voted to recommend adding the pending transaction to the agenda of the upcoming full City Council meeting on Monday, March 16. Development and Planning Committee Alderman Glen Brown Jr. was absent.