Preservation Of Keokuk Arches Can Continue

Keokuk, IA – It has been more than 8 months since the former Green Tambourine building came crashing down in downtown Keokuk. Demolition and clean-up of 528 Main Street did not get underway until earlier this year.

The Keokuk City Council halted the clean-up, in mid-February, for 30 days to allow for preservation efforts. The panel extended the delay an additional two weeks last month.

The latest deadline expired on Thursday, April 1. That prompted the group working to preserve Keokuk's underground, brick arches to make a presentation to the Keokuk City Council.

Chuck and Carole Betts says a local coalition is working with the owner of the property on a lease for the site. Chuck Betts says the group would have access to the site, for one year, at a cost of $1.

The next step for the group is to address liability issues through a security fence and an insurance policy. Chuck Betts says about $800 has been pledged for the project with an additional $1,000 available through an anonymous challenge grant.

The fence is expected to cost $3,000-$5,000 and the insurance would run about $200/month.

A timeline was also presented to the Keokuk City Council.

The group hopes to secure insurance by April 15, have the fence built by May 15, and start promoting the site for fund-raising by June 1. The long-range plans include ongoing research of the site and fund-raising for a cover or shelter to protect the arches this fall.

Most of the city council members at Thursday night's meeting supported the preservation efforts. They said the keys were the ownership, liability, and security issues.

Aldermen chose not to add any more deadlines after debating the issue for about 20 minutes.

Supporters say the goal is to preserve the arches, develop a park, and build residential and commercial space at the corners of 6th & Main in downtown Keokuk.

The Keokuk City Council also told Community Development Director Pam Broomhall to do what was necessary to complete the city's demolition contract with Davolt Demolition and Excavation.

Keokuk has paid the firm $30,000 for its work so far.

The contract calls for Davolt to receive another $6,000 to cap the sewer lines and $15,000 to fill in the site with dirt. Aldermen said to move ahead with the capping of the sewer line and to end the contract without filling in the site.