The Monroe City Council agreed last week to condemn the Martin Temple Christian Methodist Episcopal Church at 1906 Adams St. and give the church’s officers 30 days to restore the historic building.
The City Council acted on the matter during its regular meeting on Nov. 12.
The city’s code enforcement division presented the matter to the City Council, recommending a 24-hour condemnation and subsequent demolition because the building’s current condition represented a public hazard.
“The only thing holding up this building is the bricks,” said the city’s code enforcement officer, Catherine Robinson.
Robinson showed recent photos of the building, some of which showed the church’s roof had blown away and fallen to the ground. Robinson said the building also posed a risk to nearby buildings. When the roof fell in September, the roof could have fallen and hurt people or damaged nearby buildings, according to Robinson.
City Council member Michael Echols asked whether the church’s officers had any intent to restore the property.
“They had this condition in September,” said Robinson, referring to the roof blown off the building.
Echols said he would hate to tear down somebody’s church if they were planning to restore it.
The church’s minister was Rev. Jessie Faye Manuel. Most of the church’s congregants are senior citizens. Manuel spoke to the City Council along with Rev. Jay Earl, under whose supervision the church belonged.
“The building can no longer exist in its current condition,” Earl said. “We acknowledge that.”
Earl said a non-profit had raised the possibility of buying the building and restoring it.
If the church was demolished, Earl asked that the city install a historical marker to recognize the historical value of the church building.
Earl said code enforcement had alerted the church about the possibility that the homeless or drug addicts were staying in the building or might start a fire in the building to keep warm.
After the presentation, Robinson recommended that the City Council order the building be condemned within a time period shorter than 30 days.
“I do not recommend 30 days,” Robinson said.
Public Works Director Tom Janway said any demolition of the building must be considered asbestos-contaminated. Any demolition would entail regular demolition costs plus the costs of asbestos-remediation.
“The cost would be very high,” Janway said.
City Council Chairman Juanita Woods offered a motion to condemn the building and give the owners 30 days to restore the building to meet city codes. City Council member Gretchen Ezernack seconded the motion. The vote was unanimous.