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Mountain City Youth Center vote still to come

City officials

By Marlana Ward
Freelance Writer

Continued discussion about the proposed Youth Center was one of the main topics as the Town of Mountain City Board of Mayor and Aldermen met on May 2, 2018.
The discussion was a continuation of talks that have been taking place for over a year as leases, grants, and appraisals have all crossed the desks of city officials for consideration.Mayor Kevin Parsons brought the youth center topic before the council at the meeting in the hopes of having a vote taken that would either further the plan or close the door on the idea.

The progress Parsons shared with the group was that the Paul Brown Estate, the entity that owns the property at 1123 South Shady Street, is offering to sign the property over to the town immediately if an agreement about cost can be reached.The current proposal is that the town will pay half of the appraised cost of the property by the end of a three-year period as well as an annual, 2.3 percent fee collected as required by law. The current appraisal, which the estate had performed some months ago, has the town’s discounted cost set at $126,000. Parsons explained that the city had been invited to have a second appraisal done. If the parcel appraises less, the price will proportionately be also less. The estate, however, will not raise the price over the $126,000.

City Attorney George Wright voiced concern that the original lease the town had entered into with the estate for the property was only for the parcel on which the existing building sits on and that the current appraisal was for that property only. He stated that the adjoining plot had to be obtained to ensure ample parking and that according to some maps; the building even encroached upon the second parcel as it sits. Parsons assured the council that the estate was aware of this and was including both parcels in the price.

Wright also brought up the anticipated costs of tearing down the existing structure, as it does not meet building standards and suggested request the cost of demolition as a discount from the purchase price of the property. Parsons countered that the grants he was confident about the town obtaining being more than ample to meet the costs for demolition or construction needed.City Recorder Shelia Shaw asked how the town could anticipate being able to pay the $126,000 at the end of three years if the project was approved. Parsons stated that grant monies should cover the costs but also that if the center were able to operate successfully, as he believed it would, “the center would be able to support itself and provide the revenue needed to meet the cost.”

Wright estimated that a second appraisal could be completed in as little as two weeks if the appraiser was available. Morrison then requested postpone the vote on the project until prices were finalized.Parsons expressed the need to have this matter settled so that grants could be re-applied for and the youth center project plans could be underway adding that he had the paperwork on his desk and ready to be re-submitted “as soon as a decision is reached.”

“We began working on this project a little more than a year ago,” Parsons said after the meeting. “We first leased the property with the hopes of developing it as a youth center and then to purchase it. The problem with that is to be eligible for a grant; the town must have the property deeded to it. We should be able to vote when we reconvene on May 15. I anticipate work to begin quickly once the property is in the town’s name. I see the youth center as being a plus when it comes to other businesses moving into the city. The more opportunities for entertainment we have give one less opportunity for the youth to get into things that they shouldn’t be doing. It also has a great chance to incubate other entertainment and retail establishments.”

To facilitate a meeting to be held promptly to settle the youth center matter, it was decided not to adjourn the city council meeting for the evening, which allowed the council to reconvene as soon as the appraisal is in without having to meet state requirements for a public advertisement. A tentative date of May 15 has been set for the group to reconvene and have their final vote concerning the project.