Benton, IL community seeks action as leaders discuss landmark's - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Benton, IL community seeks action as leaders discuss landmark's demolition

BENTON, IL (KFVS) -

A 78-year-old landmark in Benton, Illinois may soon be demolished.

The building is known around the City of Benton as the "old scout cabin," and has fallen into a state of disrepair which the mayor thinks may soon pose a safety risk.

“The whole board wants to save it, but its reached the point where it’s the 11th hour, and we need to make a decision,” said Mayor Fred Kondritz on Friday.

Kondritz said they are willing to sell the property, located northeast of the Franklin County Courthouse, but only on the condition the buyer renovate the building.

City leaders recently had a construction firm come in to give an estimate on necessary repairs, and findings show it could cost as much as $100,000 to bring back to code.

"The floors would need to be torn up, the walls possible replaced completely, cabinetry, windows, you name it," explained Kondritz.

The cabin was originally built in the late 1930s as part of the federal Civilian Conservation Corps program, which sought to employ armed service members of the time period.

In more recent years, the cabin was rented out for receptions and parties, and offered a social escape for area teens known as “Teen Town” in its hey-day.

“That’s where you would go to meet your buds, and gals, we had dancing and bands in there every weekend… it was pretty cool,” Kondritz said.

“[My husband and I] met at Teen Town,” said Benton Genealogist Mary Eubanks. “A lot of people did. We met in 1961 and are still married, so something worked out there. It was romantic.”

Within the last five years, the city spent several thousands of dollars on a new heating and air conditioning system, but the building has remained empty and unused since around 2012.

If no one buys the property, Mayor Kondritz said there are talks of building a community park on the lot.

The demolition would cost less than $6,000 and the cost of a park has not yet been discussed, but would be “minimal” according to the mayor.

Area resident Bryan Hamilton approves of such a plan.

“Seventy-eight years now… and you know, Ol’ girl’s tired!” Hamilton said on Friday. “If it needs to go, it needs to go, but let’s make it a place where the community can still all come together, just like they used to.”

A current events class at Benton Consolidated High School is researching options for the property, and presenting their ideas to the mayor, a local construction contractor, and historians.

The earliest the building will be demolished is in the spring of 2016.

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