Controversy Grows Over Closing of Lynn Haven's Roberts Hall

By: Bryan Anderson Email
By: Bryan Anderson Email

Since 1911, the Independent Order of the Odd Fellows has been holding its monthly meetings in Lynn Haven's historic Roberts Hall. That 101 year tradition stopped Monday after city officials shut it down last month for safety violations.

"I think that's terrible. The citizens ought to speak out here in Lynn Haven," said group member Libby Tunnell.

Tunnell said the Odd Fellows spent $40,000 on building upgrades and a 2010 letter from a structural engineer appears to validate that claim. In it, structural engineer William Gaddie said quote "Everything that was accomplished is in full compliance." But for some reason city commissioners apparently disregarded that notice and instead closed the building.

"When history and heritage butt up to current uses and codes, there we have our differences," said Lynn Haven City Commissioner Joseph Ashbrook.

Instead city officials sent a letter of their own to the Odd Fellows listing a handful of structural concerns. They're also requiring the group to buy a certificate of occupancy for an estimated $20,000 to $25,000.

"I think it's blackmailing really," said Tunnell.

The Odd Fellows maintain the building is safe and said they can't afford the cost of the occupancy permit.

"We need to get back in our building. That's just all there is to it," said Tunnell.

Last month, Lynn Haven Mayor Walter Kelley appointed a group of six city employees and Odd Fellow members to look at the issue. They'll update the commissioners at Tuesday's commission meeting.


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  • by Becky on May 8, 2012 at 07:20 PM
    This is simply John Lynch taking a swipe at the "naysayers", or the "crazy's" as he prefers to call the citizens that take an adversarial view of current city staff. The City is in desperate need of a fresh, constructive perspective, and that is something John Lynch cant provide.
  • by In the know Location: Bay County on May 8, 2012 at 04:31 PM
    You conspiracy theorist are entertaining. The real truth is that the person that Harry hired lost his license on Feb 28, 2009, weeks before he falsely sealed a worthless report that had no relevant resemblance to a required by law evaluation. Check the DBPR website and you will see that Mr Gaddie was not licensed after Feb 28, 2009
  • by Concerned Location: Lynn Haven on May 8, 2012 at 03:03 PM
    Well it's the City of Lynn Haven wielding its big stick again. If they want a building or some property, they find a reason and a way to take it away. Remember the old Sallie Mae building? Bay Haven bought it to use as a school and the city manager dictator said no. It's time that John Lynch was sent packing as well as his followers on the city commission.
  • by Karen Location: Lynn Haven on May 8, 2012 at 01:27 PM
    "But for some reason city commissioners apparently disregarded that notice and instead closed the building. . . Instead city officials sent a letter of their own to the Odd Fellows listing a handful of structural concerns. They're also requiring the group to buy a certificate of occupancy for an estimated $20,000 to $25,000." Sounds like "Bay Haven deja vu" . . . another instance of citizens sinking lots of money into a structure - with the proper clearances - and then Lynn Haven pulling the plug? People take note of the appearance of misconduct and will take that into consideration when making decisions on where to locate their homes and businesses. A serious reassessment seems to be in order, Lynn Haven.
  • by scott Location: Lynn Haven on May 8, 2012 at 06:16 AM
    The city has a hidden agenda probably. They want the building for something. They are already getting the Lion's Club next year since they do not want to renew the lease.
  • by Pat Location: Sand Hills on May 8, 2012 at 05:37 AM
    I smell a rat! Someone or some entity wants that property and they're going to do everything they can to obtain it one way or another! Shame on the City of Lynn Haven if they in any way make that possible, either directly or indirectly. Now watch the posturing that it is only the safety of its citizens that the city is trying to protect. Mark my words, there is something rotten in Lynn Haven and it is NOT Roberts Hall!
  • by Mary Location: Geneva, AL on May 8, 2012 at 05:27 AM
    Mr. Lloyd and Miss Kitty... I remember them well from my childhood in Lynn Haven. I thought Mr. Lloyd was scary, but Miss Kitty was so sweet. My father remembers Hank Williams hanging out at the store before he became famous. From reading the articles I get the feeling that the City of Lynn Haven has plans for that corner and need the building gone. How soon will they find a use for the property where the statue sits?
  • by Leah Location: Lynn Haven, FL on May 7, 2012 at 08:07 PM
    Surely Lynn Haven history is important enough to justify the "Grandfather" exemption from new city requirements! This building has very special meaning for the natives of Lynn Haven. My mother, a Lynn Haven native, tells stories about this building. I remember Papa Lloyd selling candy and posters to the elementary students after school. What a shame that we should have to lose part of our heritage and for what? It will be interesting to see. We are ALL watching!
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