The Zion Rock Climbing Center building has been declared a nuisance by the Searcy City Council.
No one representing the property was present at a public hearing held Tuesday night before the council’s meeting, where it passed a resolution condemning the property at 120 N. Spruce St.
City Attorney Buck Gibson told The Daily Citizen on Wednesday that the owners “have 30 days to take some action and if they don’t take any action within the next 30 days, it can be torn down. There will have to be a few more steps in that. Any repairs will have to be approved by the city because we don’t want something that they are going to do to actually make things worse.”
Gibson said the record title owner is Peace Agenda LLC. “It’s somebody named Sean Hudkins. All I can tell you is that that is the name of the real property owner. The lien holder and the record title holder will be notified that the property has been declared to be a nuisance.”
The resolution pertaining to the property stated that the Searcy Code Enforcement Department advised the council that the property is a nuisance “on the following bases: Vacant Structure and Land: Ordinance 2016-14 Chapter 9 Section 9-3-1-3. The structure has become severely dilapidated and has started falling in on itself. The building is unsafe for anyone to enter and is going to fall to the ground. This has become a safety hazard for the neighboring businesses and to the public.”
The resolution also states that Code Enforcement “has made contact with the owners of the property on a number of occasions seeking to have these conditions remedied, with no success as of the date of the adoption of the resolution.”
A memo to the City Council from Code Enforcement, dated Oct. 7, listed the issues to the property: “1. Roof on structure has a hole in it to allow water damage on inside. 2. Structure has no utilities connected to it. 3. This structure has become a safety hazard to the citizens of Searcy.”
The memo, from Code Enforcement Officer Kenneth Shoemaker, also states that “this property is a place where pest and vermin may live and can breed. With the structure being unstable and the roof collapsing in on itself, it does not meet any building code regulations.”
Code Enforcement Department Director Jeff Webb said the building was inspected July 21 and on July 22, he said he called the owner who lives in Massachusetts to let them know of a temporary working order to close it down. Webb said he sent a certified letter July 23 and did not get a reply until Sept. 7. Webb said the reason for the delay with the response was because the letter was sitting in a post office in Massachusetts that was “further out, way out in the country.”
Zion Climbing Center closed last spring because of COVID-19 concerns and because business declined with Harding University students being sent home for the remainder of the spring semester. Although the nonprofit reopened in October of last year, it was closed again after the inspection “until an engineer can sign off on the safety of the roof and front wall of the building,” according to a July 23 Facebook post.
Zion Climbing Center was the first nonprofit to be featured on the online marketing makeover reality show “Small Business Revolution-Main Street.” Season 4, featuring six Searcy businesses, premiered in the fall of 2019.
Information on the business from the series described it as “a nonprofit with the intention of promoting community. Sean and Emily Hudkins started the center and when the show information came out, it stated that the business had been operating for 12 years.”