JACKSONVILLE — The City Council learned Monday that 7.4 acres of land it agreed to purchase earlier this month is divided by property owned by a metal casting company with a local presence.
The acreage, located at the former Profile Mill, is bordered by both the Chief Ladiga Trail and Alexandria Road and is near the Jacksonville Community Center. A thin line of land shaped like the letter L, no more than 40 feet wide at any point, is owned by SPAR and divides the acreage into two sections.
Council members told Mayor Johnny Smith they would like to proceed to purchase the old mill property, despite the fact that a piece of it is divided by SPAR property.
“We’re ready to go ahead and close that deal,” said Smith after talking to the council about whether the city should proceed with the purchase in light of the revelation. “We just don’t feel like that little strip of land makes that much difference for our purposes.”
The council initially gave Smith the authority to negotiate the purchase two weeks ago, and members said they hoped to eventually trade the acreage for two schools, Kitty Stone Elementary School and Eastwood School, both of which are owned by Jacksonville State University.
Last week the JSU Board of Trustees gave President Bill Meehan the authority to negotiate a such a land swap with the city.
Council President Mark Jones asked the mayor to find out whether SPAR would be willing to move its strip of land to the edge of the property the city would like to buy.
Smith said he thinks it is likely that the university will be able to use the land even though the strip of land cuts it in two. But he thinks the city will find a use for it even if the proposed land swap doesn’t work out.
“The council can see a lot of possibilities .. even if the university doesn’t want it,” Smith said.
In other business the council:
- Agreed to allocate $35,000 to the Calhoun-Cleburne County Drug and Violent Crime Task Force. City officials also said last year’s allocation, also of $35,000, was not paid to the task force until this year because of a billing error.
Officials said though the city agreed to make the $35,000 payment last year, it was never billed for the expense and did not pay it until it realized there was an error this year.
- Agreed to allocate $19,186 for the Paratransit Service, a bus system for people with disabilities. The program is administered locally by the East Alabama Regional Planning and Development Commission.
- Agreed to consent to a tax abatement agreement granted by the Calhoun County Commission on May 22, 2014, to Baggett’s Trailer Connection. The business is located just inside the city’s police jurisdiction and is subject to pay the city a percentage of the tax it collects, but officials did not realize it until after the county abatement agreement was complete.
County Revenue Commissioner Karen Roper caught the error and reported it to the city. The abatement is likely to cost Jacksonville $1,200.
- Authorized the mayor to spend $9,500 to buy pipe that will be installed under a yet-to-be completed road to an industrial development park near Greenleaf Street.
- Agreed to spend $9,000 to make drainage improvements at Alabama 21 and Parris Street.
- Scheduled a work session for Monday, Aug. 11, at 8 a.m. to discuss the findings of a JSU compensation study about city employees.
Staff writer Laura Gaddy: 256-235-3544. On Twitter @LGaddy_Star.