Trimont seeks cleanup funds

TRIMONT – A fire that broke out in April at El Rodeo Restaurant and Bar has Trimont officials scrambling to find funds to pay for the building’s demolition.

“Obviously we’ve got to get it taken care of because it’s a safety hazard,” said Mayor Tom Eckmann, who would like to see the building torn down by the end of the year.

The mayor came before Martin County commissioners this week, seeking assistance with the project.

Estimates to demolish the structure, which is actually four buildings cobbled together, have ranged from $100,000 to $150,000, due to the amount of asbestos that will need to be properly disposed of.

Insurance is paying out $32,500, which will go directly into the city’s coffers, not the original property owner, according to Eckmann. From its own funds, Trimont has just $7,000 set aside for housing cleanup.

“We’re just looking for some help from the county if you can give it,” Eckmann said.

Martin County has $68,000 in a fund to help with projects such as this, but before promising any aid, commissioners instructed Eckmann to talk with county staff about possible grants that could assist with the demolition.

“Martin County is here to help … but if there are other possibilities, we don’t want to commit to a dollar amount,” said Commissioner Dan Schmidtke, “but we are here for you, from my opinion.”

The fire that destroyed El Rodeo, a popular establishment with the area’s Hispanic community, originated in the kitchen in the early morning hours of April 16. The cause is believed to be accidental.