SHIRLEY — The wallpaper is curling up and barely clinging to the walls at Shirley’s town hall. Whenever it rains, someone — usually clerk-treasurer Teresa Hester — has to go and get a bucket so the rain dripping from the ceiling doesn’t soak the carpet.
It’s hard to conduct official business when it’s raining indoors, but that’s just what Shirley Town Council has been dealing with for at least five years. A leaky roof and rotting rafters have allowed rainwater to enter the town council chambers, causing damage to the roof and walls.
Shirley Town Council members discussed the ongoing issues and potential solutions — including partial demolition and roof repairs — during a special meeting conducted during the weekend.
The building, which also houses a Marathon gas station, is owned by the White family, former owners of Gas America Services Inc., which was sold to Speedway LLC in 2012. The town of Shirley leases the building for $12 a year and is responsible for its upkeep, Hester said.
In recent years, town officials have put off repairs to the building because the town doesn’t own it. They don’t want to invest taxpayer money in a building they’re leasing, said Shirley Town Council chairman Dennis Denney.
The town would like to eventually purchase the building, but at this point the building has to be fixed regardless of officials’ wishes, he said.
“We still want to own it,” he said. “It’s easier to spend money on something when you own it. They did us a heck of a deal, it just started to be a lot of money.”
The town of Shirley has been responsible for the building for the past 16 years, Denney said.
The building was built in 1950, according to Hancock County’s geographic information system, before becoming the Gas America headquarters. Dennis Spegal, the property manager for K and S Holdings, which owns the building, said Gas America took over the building from 1982 to 2000.
The property owners have discussed whether town officials’ failure to maintain the building’s upkeep has voided the lease, but they don’t want to be hard on the town, Spegal said.
Town officials would like to demolish a single-wide trailer attached to the back of the building. It was built in 1973 and was originally used for storage, but it fell into disrepair and is not currently used for anything, Denney said.
Before they can make any changes, town officials have to seek approval from the building’s owners per the lease agreement, Denney said.
If K and S Holdings grants the town permission to demolish the 720-square-foot trailer, officials will seek bids for the demolition, Denney said.
However, the town owns equipment that could be used to tear down the dilapidated add-on, Denny said, so officials might have town employees do the work instead.
According to initial quotes Shirley officials requested two years ago, repairs to the rotted wood roof and shingles would cost up to $20,000, Hester said.
Officials will seek new quotes from three local businesses in coming weeks to start the project as soon as possible.