By Jonathan Pleasant
After months of discussion, research, and deliberation the Mountain City Town Council finally made a decision concerning the old Ramsey Five and Dime building downtown. Citing the serious public health hazard the dilapidated and moldering building poses, including its potential as a fire hazard to neighboring downtown buildings, the council ultimately determined to purchase the property and have the structure torn down.
Although the issue has resurfaced time and again over the past few years, talks got serious this past summer when the Johnson County Farmers Market began looking for a permanent home. Denying the organization their first request to locate in Ralph Stout Park, the city then began looking at Ramseys as a viable substitute. There has been little interest in the proposal from the market itself, but this has not deterred the council from finally settling the problem of what to do about the downtown lot.
At a little over $35,000 to purchase and demolish the structure, the board agreed unanimously that the property will likely be worth more cleaned up than as it currently stands, and the process of formally condemning the building would likely run into more costs in the long run than simply purchasing it outright. With this in mind, Mayor Lawrence Keeble made the motion to go ahead with the purchase plan and was met with full support. While many council members did acknowledge the decision would change the landscape of downtown, the overwhelming feeling was that the positive consequences would far outweigh anything negative. Meanwhile the Farmers Market is still looking for a permanent location, and while the Ramsey property is still not quite off the table, Mayor Keeble did believe that the organization may be moving closer to a decision at another location anyway.
While the board very strongly acted on one longstanding problem they continued to deliberate on another issue concerning city residents that have been mistakenly left off the tax rolls. Discovered a few months ago by Alderman Jerry Jordan, the County Tax Assessors office had for years been utilizing a map that displayed inaccurate information on the location of the Mountain City Limits. Once the problem was identified it was discovered that more than 40 parcels were not being charged for city taxes even though they had always been within the town limits.
For the rest of the story, pick up a copy of this week's Tomahawk.
By Jonathan Pleasant