Locals calling burned out motel a danger and nuisance

ST. MARTIN, MS (WLOX) - What was once a bustling motel is now a burned out shell of its former self. A fire in September of 2012 destroyed most of the rooms and lobby.

Almost two years later, nothing has been done to fix it up. The front door is locked, but a back door is open and windows are broken, allowing anyone or anything to get inside. County officials, like Supervisor Troy Ross, have had enough.

"We're starting the process to go ahead and demolish this building. It's one of those lengthy processes, but I think they've had long enough to do something with this building," Ross said.

Local business owners are concerned too. Just up the road from the motel is In The Zone, which caters to children during the summer and before and after school. Michael Capers is the owner.

"Safety is our number one priority, and we want to make sure that there's nothing in our neighborhood that's going to be dangerous to any child." Capers explained.

There are other concerns as well. You can see the motel from the dog run at Big Ridge Veterinary Hospital, which is owned by Dr. Lisa Wilkerson.

"We've tried to give directions on how to get here, and they say 'Oh, you're in front of the burned down hotel.' Yes, we are unfortunately. I'd rather have something much prettier or nothing there at all," Wilkerson said.

Complicating the situation, the fire was declared arson, but progress has been made in that regard, according to ATF Agent Joel Lee.

"We do have a suspect identified, but we are not going to release that information until we make a determination of whether we're going to charge the suspect that we have," Lee said.

While county officials and local business owners are concerned about the safety aspect of the property, with the doors open it could be used by vagrants or vermin, they are really concerned about the pool.

We discovered today it's full of water, the gate is open and it's dangerous. Ross wants that changed immediately.

"I want to see if there is something we can do quicker than waiting for the process to take place, because once a child or someone falls in a pool like that, it's too late to do something," said Ross.

Everyone seems to agree that something needs to happen quickly.

County officials tell WLOX News they are having a hard time tracking down the owner or owners, listed on the tax deed as MAHLI LLC. The only mailing address is for the hotel itself and mail can't be delivered there. They also say the only phone number once listed for the business has been disconnected.

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