To the Editor,

This is in response to the article you published on September 9, 2018, titled a A SMELLY SITUATION. It has been almost 2 months and smoke continues to be a problem, the issue is still unresolved and Multitudes’ doors are still closed. No one, the restaurant owners, the building owners or the city of officials are taking responsibility for this smoke situation and no one is moving forward to resolve this issue. I will attempt to give you only the facts and unresolved questions as I know and understand them, however, I strongly feel a smoke pit cooker should have never been allowed to be installed in this historic building.

Key issues that need to be addressed are 1. Cooking off-site would totally solve the entire problem 2. If allowed to continue cooking on-site, the restaurant owners or building owners, should be held responsible to make the improvements as mentioned in the investigation reports 3. Possible fire hazard.

Two investigation reports have been finalized. These two investigation companies are totally unbiased in their findings. The first report was from Stanley restoration and the second report was done by EFI Global, a structural engineering company. Numerous problems were found that seem to be causing the continuous smoke problem. The report shows that this historic building was built with a 15in air cavity in the main wall that separates the two businesses. It's also noted there is the same type air cavity in the subfloor between the ceiling and above the hardwood floor of the second story. These air cavities present a serious fire hazard.

Fire Department officials have stated the same type construction was the reason we lost the four historic buildings on January 18th, 2011. Once the fire penetrates these enclosed cavities the fire is hard to detect. It is extremely hard to extinguish the fire and these cavities allow the fire to move swiftly into other businesses.

On the second floor above Multitudes and The Vault, there is no solid wall dividing the space. There is nothing that would create a barrier to stop smoke and fire from spreading across the entire second floor including the second floor of the Ellis County Museum. Three large doors actually open into the museum. When these doors are opened you see into the Museum's second floor which houses all of its artifacts, smoke is smelled upstairs, including in the museum, and in the event of a fire that could consume all three businesses. Think about it, there is nothing up there to stop smoke and fire from entering our historic museum.

As stated above, the entire issue could be resolved if the restaurant owners, the city officials and the landlords would agree the smoked meat should be cooked off-site. This would alleviate the possible destruction of losing more historic buildings that surround the historic courthouse and the famous Ellis County Museum and would also eliminate the smoke from seeping into Multitudes. Very simple — problem solved!

Throughout our town other barbecue restaurants that use a smoke pit how's their smokers and a separate Smokehouse outside of their restaurants or they're cooked off-site. Examples of these are Harris BBQ, Kika's chicken, and Dickey's Barbecue.

If the restaurant owners are not forced to smoke off-site it seems to me that after reading the structural engineers report, the restaurant owners or building owners should at least be held responsible for raising the smokestack above the roof of the building where it would draw more effectively, distributing the smoke into the atmosphere away from the building and not smudge the wall of the building as it does today. As of today, the smokestack is not doing its job. The cap of the smokestack is level with the second-story windows. Many of these windows need to be replaced, repaired or re-caulked. One of the places smoke enters the second floor is at this point. This would also alleviate the smoke from being channeled down the narrow alley to the front of the buildings. Every time Multitudes and the museum open their front doors they experience smoke entering their building. I feel a professional exhaust ventilation system needs to be installed that is comparable to the other restaurants in the downtown area.

Multitudes, and award-winning boutique, has been forced to close its doors. Because of the pride of ownership, Multitudes could not, in good faith, continue business and sell clothes that smell like smoke. All three parties, The Vault, the city and the landlords need to do what's right and address the dilemma and work together to get Multitudes back in business. Everyone needs to learn from this unfortunate problem and move forward to solve this issue. Multitudes has suffered greatly. if something is not done quickly they will miss the most profitable weeks and months in retail — Texas Country Reporter weekend plus fall and holiday sales.

Multitudes is the innocent victim in this whole situation. This is a SAD, UNJUST situation that should have never happened.

Robert G. Scruggs, Waxahachie