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City could decide fate of Opera House

By DAWNE LEIKER

dleiker@dailynews.net

The future of a downtown landmark will be in the hands of Hays city commissioners Thursday night as they consider passing a resolution to set a public hearing to determine whether the Opera House should be demolished.

The meeting will be at 6:30 p.m. at city hall.

Since 2008, city staff has been in contact with Liberty Group, owners of the structure at 811 Fort, regarding condition of the building and future renovation plans for the building.

"Within the past six to eight months, the structure has deteriorated to the point that staff feels it is unsafe and the condition must be addressed," said Jesse Rohr, planning inspection and enforcement superintendent.

However, on two separate occasions during the past three weeks, significant amounts of debris -- primarily limestone blocks -- have fallen from the structure, forcing the city to close off the sidewalk and on-street parking adjacent to the structure.

"Further debris could fall at any time resulting in damage or injury; therefore, the timely nature of this issue is imperative," Rohr said in a meeting memo.

By statute, the condemnation process requires the commission fix a time and place of public hearing for the owner to appear and show cause why the structure should not be condemned and ordered demolished.

City staff is recommending setting a public hearing for July 26.