"If city council decides it comes down, it comes down." Abernathy citizens woke up to sounds of demolition Friday morning. After more than a year of debate, construction crews tore down city hall. "Everybody was surprised that they tore it down today they thought it was gonna be torn down next week," says citizen Cory Easter.
So why the rush? Both city councilmen Elias Vecchio and City Manager Russell said we needed to ask the mayor. So we went to Mayor Bobby Burnett for the answer. You decided to expedite the demolition.. Why so? "To get it over with we've been working on this for 19 months. We finally got something done."
But what Burnett did was start the demolition three days early. Citizens like John Vandergriff say his actions violated the city contract and their rights. "They don't care about anybody. They hold meetings in secret without following the open meeting act they do whatever they want,"Vandergriff says. "The citizens have got a say in it. They elected city councilmen to represent them. They elected me as mayor," says Mayor Burnett.
For now demolition of city hall has stopped. Jana Grimsley, the LCU student who wanted to save the building by sanitizing it, successfully obtained an injunction. It was delivered by her attorney.. Dennis Reeves at 1pm.
"I think the mayor thought we were going to get an injunction and they jump started everything and got started on the demolition this morning," Reeves says.
The focus now shifts to a court date set for January 17th. A judge will then decide whether or not demolition can continue. Mayor Burnett says plans for a new city hall are underway, at a cost of under $600,000.
City Councilman Todd Abells told NewsChannel 11 "Council has done rough drafts for floor plans, but they have not accepted any of them, nor have they even gone out for bids yet."