Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Tarp not enough to save 90-year-old Tucson building

[Source: Rob O'Dell, Arizona Daily Star] -- The torn blue tarp that adorns the Marist College building in Downtown Tucson looks like it belongs on the top of a temporary tent. Instead it is the protection from the elements for a crumbling 90-year-old historic adobe building that is deteriorating before everyone's eyes. The tarp, put up last year to protect the building after a piece of it fell off during the last monsoon season, has since split wide open, exposing a crater in the northwest corner of the structure, which is the only three-story adobe building in Southern Arizona, said local architect Bob Vint. Another monsoon should arrive within weeks.

Hoping to save the building from another pounding from Mother Nature, City Councilman Jose Ibarra has put up $24,000 of his ward office money to study how much it will cost to rehabilitate the building and make it safe to occupy. The study should take about three months, and Ibarra wants the city's Department of Urban Planning to do the study to ensure that it is done in a timely manner. The study will "tell us how bad a situation it is," Ibarra said, adding, "We have to do all we can to preserve historic structures Downtown."

"The building is exposed and is only protected by the tarp," Ibarra said, noting that monsoon season is again almost upon us. "We need to get going on this, protect the building and not allow it to fall into more disrepair." John Shaheen, the property and insurance director for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Tucson, said the building is in its last days. He said the city and the diocese must move quickly and not get caught up in the details on what it may be used for in the future. "If we don't do something to save it, the point will be moot," Shaheen said of the building. "We're up against time."

[Note: To read the full article, click here. Photo source: Kelly Presnell, Arizona Daily Star]