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Martensen trying to restore history

November 15, 2023 - 00:00
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    Examiner photo by Celeste Anguiano Navasota Development Services Director Lupe Diosdado was recognized by Human Resources Director Peggy Johnson for 10-years of service.

The fate of a historic building on Holland Street in Navasota awaited council decision during the Nov. 6, meeting.

According to a report prepared by Navasota Code Enforcement Specialist Erik Covarrubias (who was out sick), and presented by Navasota Development Services Director Lupe Diosdado, the building at 202 Holland Street in Navasota had a portion of the roof cave in.

“We were notified that the roof collapsed, and we have been in contact with the property owner,” said Diosdado. “We’ve been working a lot with Eric Tennyson, he’s the son of the original property owner.”

Diosdado said anytime they have a case where an order is being considered to repair or demolish a building, The City tries to document as much of what is visible including a lot of photos. “You can just walk by the building and see that there is some significant damage,” he said.

“Since then, we heard that Neil Martensen is involved and may be looking at purchasing the property,” said Diosdado. “Depending on the information that is shared tonight, council will have a few options, either order the building repaired or demolished in x amount of time or maybe even grant some additional time.”

Tennyson stated they got a signed contract with Martensen Nov. 9, and the closure of the sale is scheduled Nov. 24.

Martensen said he is friends with the owner and both of them share a passion for classic vehicles. Martensen said he visited with the owner who informed him of the potential order for repair or demolish. Martensen said he stopped by one day to see how it was going, and within 48 hours he was under contract.

Martensen reached out to a contractor who referred him to Thomas Gessner, who owns Gessner Engineering in Bryan. Gessner was born and raised in Navasota.

“I am not a specialist when it comes to restoring old buildings, it’s not my thing,” explained Martensen. “But I love the project and end goal what I am trying to do is I would love to have a State Farm office in there, have more retail space for the community. I’d love the opportunity to try to beautify downtown.”

Martensen said The City is doing a good job with beautifying downtown, and he would love to have a small part of it.

Councilmembers, Bernie Gessner and Pattie Pederson, filled out legal paperwork to recuse themselves due to conflict of interest.

Main council concerns were public safety, and safety of those working in the building as well as ensuring the project would be completed not just prolonging definition.

“In the next 90 days we’re going to know whether this can be repaired or whether it needs to be torn down,” said Martensen. “I’m just requesting a little bit more time, so I can have a little bit more time to evaluate the situation and try to save a Navasota landmark that we’ve had for a long time. I’m not a big believer in just new, obviously I’m a car guy, so I don’t like to just rip it down and buy something new. That’s not the way I roll. So, I would love to give this old girl new life and she could be a really cool addition to downtown.”

Council approved the motion, 3-0, to defer action on the order regarding 202 Holland Street for 60 days on the condition the property owner secures the property including the building on the east, north and west sides, within seven days with a six-foot chain link fence, and to direct city staff to notify any new owner of the substandard condition of the building at the appropriate time.

Cemetery report

Michelle Savensky reported that Oakland Cemetery had a total of 43 plots sold, 15 plots sold on contract, two urn plots sold, there were 52 burials, 39 monuments were set work, four people requested use of the chapel, and three grave digging permits were issued, and there was a cemetery tour with Lanterns and Legends.

Navasota City Secretary Susie Hoymeyer explained the report has been given once before in 2022, and was requested by a resident, the staff have decided to continue to provide this report annually.

CIP Projects

Jon MacKay, a graduate engineer provided updates on CIP projects. He said street utility testing is currently being completed on upgraded streets. They are testing various needs such as manhole reliability, seals and other various testing points. While tedious, MacKay explained the testing is needed to ensure quality roads that are not problematic.

Current street upgrade projects on Neal and Sycamore are still on schedule to be completed by late Jan. 2024. Fire Hydrant contract finalizations for the Navasota Airport and Pecan Lakes area are set to be completed, as well as the groundbreaking for Phase 2 of the Hidden Hills project.

Two projects the department asked for bids for were rotors for the WasteWater plant and extending high pressure gas access for the Pecan Lakes area to ensure residents have access to gas at a proper rate during peak cold months. MacKay also reported the eastside water plant project is still in operation with the geo tech staff still hard ground testing and working through permitting.

Wreaths Across America

Kathy Cave Wells presented information on the third annual Wreaths Across America event at Oakland Cemetery Saturday Dec. 16, beginning at 11a.m.

The event honors veterans who are interred across cemeteries across the United States, and all the wreath laying events are held at the same time. Oakland cemetery is the main site for Grimes County; however, wreaths are available for purchase and have been purchased in the past to place on gravesites of veterans buried across Grimes County.

Letter sent to Pecan Lakes residents

Navasota City Manager Jason Weeks addressed notifications residents of Pecan Lakes received concerning the water provider and access.

A cease and assist order as required from the Public Utility Commission (PUC) was sent to residents Nov. 10. The letter pertains to G&W Water Supply of Waller County who filed a petition against the City of Navasota that may affect water service out there.

“Residents may receive a legal notice from the PUC about the water service, but rest assured The City is committed to ensuring safe reliable drinking water to their home and there will not be any interruption in their service,” explained Weeks. “Texas law allows The City to serve within its city limits including in the Pecan Lakes neighborhood. Another utility (G&W Water Supply) is asserting the right to serve.”

Weeks said G&W is located in Waller. The notice residents receive is one of two efforts at the PUC of Texas to clear up the entitlement to serve between The City and G&W. Weeks said The City is working with legal counsel to put together a press release to distribute to the residents of Pecan Lakes, so they are aware.

Other action

• Approved Resolution 752-23, a water leak adjustment policy and backdate it to June 2023 which will include a water leak at George Washington Carver School.

Weeks addressed the need for a water leak adjustment policy. “Currently the city has no water leak adjustment policy,” he said. “Water leak adjustment policies are not unusual, a lot of cities have these.”

The needed change in the city’s current policy, would allow residents to show proof of a leak that may have occurred at their home or property allowing the resident to provide the repairs themselves or hire a profession to complete the task and receive an adjustment to the customer’s bill.

• Cancelled Dec. 25 council meeting.

• Awarded contract for annual lawn care services for public grounds to JC Sand Dirt and Construction Services LLC for $216,781.50. Navasota Assistant Public Works Director Jose Coronilla said Green Team has provided the service for 5 years, but after 5 years the services have to be opened for bid. He said four bids were submitted - JC Sand Dirt and Construction Services LLC ($216,781.50), Green Teams ($283,899), Landmark ($381,508) and Groundworks ($721,890).

• Approved Resolution No. 751-23 authorizing the mayor to sign engagement letter with Belt Harris Pechacek LLP for audit services for City of Navasota fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2023.

• Approved financials for fiscal year date as of Sept. 23, 2023.

The complete video of the Nov. 6, council meeting may be viewed at,