Press "Enter" to skip to content

Controversy over closed Galena Manor building unresolved

GALENA MANOR resident Rosemary Coreathers asks Mayor Esmeralda Moya the status of the remodeling work on the Evelyn Churchill Community Center, but she didn’t get an answer. Coreathers then asked the mayor to place this issue on the next agenda so citizens can find out what’s going on and when the center will reopen. (Photo by Allan Jamail)

GALENA PARK, March 21, 2017 – Controversy continued at the Galena Park Commissioner’s meeting over the reopening of the Evelyn Churchill Community Center in Galena Manor.

Residents from Galena Manor, a predominantly minority community located within Galena Park, regularly attend council meetings asking Mayor Moya for a reopening date of the community center which was closed in August of 2016 for repairs, mold remediation, and renovation.

The residents say the Mayor won’t give them an answer, they say it’s frustrating to ask her for answers and never get at least one word back. They’re beginning to wonder if she’s hearing their pleas to return their building that’s been used for decades, for workout exercising and other community events near their homes.

The renovation contractor Lionel Palimares, owner of Petro De Luna Company, says he can’t get answers either as to why his company hasn’t been paid for the two invoices he’s given the Mayor, City Secretary Mayra Gonzales or Assistant Parks and Recreation Director Wendy Villarreal.

Palimares said he’s performed many contracting jobs with the city before. “I’ve complied with everything I’ve always done in times past on city jobs. This is the first time I haven’t been paid for a job. I’ve turned in two bills, one for about $49,600 and one for about $18,000.”

Palimares said, “On several occasions while my workers and I were renovating the building, Mayor Moya and the City Secretary Mayra Gonzales would come visit the work site. Mayor Moya complimented us for the good job we were doing, so I’m confused as to why now the payment is held up without any explanation. The city issued me all of the permits for the electrical and building renovations; I performed all of the work according to the codes required. In August the city gave me a key to the building so I could begin the work.”

Palimares continued working on the center until one day Assistant Parks and Recreation Director Wendy Villarreal called and said to stop work. He said the work was finished except for putting on a few door handles which he did do and then stopped.

Commissioner Eric Broussard, the Parks and Recreation Commissioner said, “In the middle of 2016 when it was decided by the Mayor and City Commission to renovate the center, three bids was submitted to the city as always required. After review we decided Mr. Palimares had the best bid and the city would get more work from Mr. Palimares than the other two bidders. I placed on the August 2016 agenda to amend the budget so the work could begin and the Mayor said we wouldn’t need to amend the budget because in October when we would have the new 2016-2017 budget there’d be sufficient funds in it to do the renovation. I’ve asked numerous times of the mayor to pay the city’s debt and to get the building back open so the citizens can begin using it. At the most recent council meeting I again asked the Mayor to pay the debt and she said she couldn’t find any contract.”

Upon contacting Mr. Palimares, he said he gave his renovation contract to the City Secretary and the Parks and Recreation Director and can’t understand why it’s not available to anyone.

Commissioner Broussard says the mayor asked for an inspection of the building, the work and for a mold inspection which Garner Environment Services of Deer Park performed. They said there was the typical normal amount of mold that’s found in most buildings and would only need to do normal maintenance cleaning with regular air conditioner filter replacement.

NOTE: At the time of this writing Mayor Moya and other city staff weren’t available for their comments to this story. A follow up story will be made along with other City Commission meeting business that took place at the March 21st meeting.