In May 8-14 issue
By Derek Aaron
Times Journal Reporter
ABOVE: Tony Kerr tells the City Council about the offer for City Hall.
JAMESTOWN - Meeting in a second special session in less than a week, the City Council finally accepted the $225,000 offer for the current City Hall and its property, made by the county's Project Development Board.
The location is needed for the construction of the new 35,000 sq. ft., $13+ million county Judicial Center. The city of Jamestown was the final property owner to accept the board's offer, according to Mayor Brooks Bates.
He said he had been told by members of the board that the $225,000 figure was the "final" offer given to the city. Had the city rejected the offer on Monday, Bates said the board was going to look elsewhere to build the Judicial Center.
In the five-minute Monday meeting, the mayor said the city's acceptance of the offer was contingent on all of the other necessary properties being purchased as well as the development of a parking lot behind the H. James Popplewell dentist building.
Councilman Larry Joe Murray made the motion to accept the board's offer. Councilman David Lawless gave the second.
Councilman George Ralph Garr, who does support the building of the Judicial Center, was the only present dissenting vote.
"I just think we're getting short-changed," he said. "I just think we need more money."
Councilwoman Marcelene Taylor was not present at Monday's meeting due to a prior commitment but had expressed her displeasure with the appraisal of City Hall and the board's offer at last Wednesday's special-called meeting.
At last Wednesday's special session, Property Development Board member and Circuit Clerk Tony Kerr spoke for around 45 minutes to the council, who all were present, on the issue at hand.
"We feel like the city of Jamestown is a partner with us in this effort," he said. "This is an opportunity, that if you're lucky, might come around every 100 years."
Kerr said that when built, the new Judicial Center would become an asset to not only Jamestown, but to the county as a whole.
He said when talks of the Judicial Center began nearly a year ago, five sites were discussed thoroughly by the board for what he called "a very enormous building."
The board decided that the new facility should be located on the square and would help to revitalize much of the northeastern block of downtown, Kerr said.
Now, since having commitments from four property owners on North Main St., Kerr told the council that the board had their eyes on the Duo County Telephone building behind Linda's Diner.
Kerr stated that talks concerning the Duo County property, which appraised at $80,000, had begun with Duo County CEO Bill Magruder.
Kerr said the current budget for the Judicial Center is $538,000 for all properties, but with appraisals the board is over-budget by $55,000 at $593,892. As of now, Kerr said the board did not have the funds readily available to attempt at making a property purchase from Duo County Telephone but that talks with Magruder would continue.
Councilwoman Marcelene Taylor, who was absent from Monday's meeting, said on Wednesday that she felt City Hall had been "under-appraised," and wished to see more figures concerning the appraisal before voting for the sale of city property.