Hoping not to let another historic property slip into disrepair and abandonment, Mineral Wells City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved applying for a matching grant through the Texas Historical Commission.
The Mineral Wells Women's Club has been the caretaker of the city-owned historic post office on N.E. 2nd Street, two blocks north of the Baker Hotel, restoring and maintaining the 120-year-old building's interior through fundraising, special events and venue rentals.
But the exterior is beginning to show signs of weathering, cracks and some crumbling and the foundation could be in need of repair – costs that exceed the abilities of the club and its resources.
"We are very concerned about the building," said Women's Club Vice President Sharon Owens, who attended Tuesday's meeting with several other club members. "But we are just a bunch of little old ladies with limited funds. It's falling apart."
City Finance Director John Moran brought to council a proposal to apply for a Texas Preservation Trust Fund grant administered through the THC. The grant request totals $45,000, of which the city would be responsible for half at $22,500 in the 2019-2020 fiscal year if the grant request is successful.
Moran said the city could use monies from the Texas Increment Reinvestment Zone No. 2 fund.
Sitting at about $300,000, the TIRZ No. 2 fund collects revenue through a special downtown property value assessment calculated and collected by the Palo Pinto County Tax Office.
A previously untapped fund, in the past year council has committed $40,000 from the fund for a downtown development design study and about $57,500 in TIRZ No. 2 funds for the city's share in the TxDOT downtown streetscaping project.
Moran told the Index the fund collects about $70,000 a year through the special tax assessment, a number expected to gradually increase as downtown improvements come online and property values rise.
"What is going on today (downtown) won't be realized until 2020 or 2021," Moran said in response to a question. "It takes a while for it to catch up."
The grant application was due Jan. 31, and city staff worked with Komatsu Architecture to prepare and submit the grant request. Komatsu assisted with the grant's preparation at no charge to the city, Moran said.
Komatsu Architecture is a name familiar to many locally as they were engaged by the Mineral Wells Area Chamber of Commerce to perform a study and make redevelopment, preservation and use recommendations for the historic Mineral Wells High School on West Hubbard Street.
"The grant would allow us to obtain funding to have a professional architectural evaluation of the exterior of the (post office) building, as well as determine the best course of action to eventually preserve, protect and restore the exterior," Moran stated.
He said most historic preservation grant monies this year are going to Southeast Texas to help with recovery efforts resulting from Hurricane Harvey.
Council backed the grant application request with a 7-0 vote.