The McClellan Development Authority rejected land purchase proposals from Xtreme Concepts, a Birmingham-based security firm, after a heated executive session during the development group’s called meeting Thursday afternoon.
Landon Ash, CEO of Xtreme Concepts — the company that last month discussed buying the “starship” barracks at McClellan, and trained local police in special tactics as recently as 2017 — stormed out of the executive session within 20 minutes of its start, but he returned from an SUV in the parking lot a half hour later to continue negotiating with MDA board members.
When the board reconvened from executive session about 15 minutes later, it voted to reject one of two purchase proposals from Xtreme Concepts, while also authorizing MDA Director Julie Moss to make a counteroffer in the same motion. The board also voted to reject the security firm’s second proposal.
No dollar values were discussed during the public portions of the meeting.
Ash said after the vote that he wanted to buy land at McClellan to build dog kennels. After board member Bill Robison offered an update on a project to build horse trails at McClellan, Ash said he believed his company was in competition with the horse trail project, a potential development proposed by the Backcountry Horsemen of America, an Alabama group that perpetuates “the common sense use and enjoyment of horses in America's backcountry and wilderness.”
Robison clarified that the equine project and the parcel of land in question, which Moss said during the meeting is partially the property of Auburn University, are unrelated. Ash’s attorney asked if the property would be available if negotiation with Backcountry Horsemen fell through. When the point seemed not to be addressed, Ash pressed Robison, saying, “I think what (he’s) asking is, if the horse trail falls through like a lot of other things up here have, will the property be available for purchase?”
“The horse trails and bike trails will not fall through,” said Phil Webb, chairman of the MDA board. “It won’t happen.”
Robison assured Ash that the terminology of the vote — the rejection of both proposals — didn’t mean that the MDA was rejecting Xtreme Concepts. Webb said the board recognized the security firm’s investments in the area, and said, “We want this to work.”
Ash said that the matter is time-sensitive, and that he needs to start building kennels immediately. He said the company just closed on property in Talladega, and that if the MDA and Ash couldn’t agree on terms, he is prepared to move there instead. He said that every day he doesn’t start building, it’s a disservice to the dogs in his possession.
“I’m a very honest and open person, so I just want y’all to know where you stand with us. If we can’t reach terms I’ve got to start business plans to build kennel infrastructure somewhere they want us,” Ash said.
Several members of the board assured Ash that his business is wanted at McClellan.
During the meeting, the board also:
— Agreed to update its website to use Wordpress at the recommendation of Oxford-based digital marketing firm Widenet, for a one-time fee of $1,500.
— Was informed by Moss that the board will need to hire a new part-time financial manager to replace Rhonda Ford, who currently works with the MDA part-time. She will be leave her position once a replacement is hired and trained.