At yesterday's meeting of the City Finance Committee, councilmember Kay Senter turned the presentation over to Realtor/County Commissioner Paul Lebel.
Lebel noted that a community center has been a topic of discussion in Morristown for a long time. He stated that the KIA property on West Andrew Johnson Highway is in foreclosure and this presents an opportunity to purchase the property at a reasonable price and develop it into a community center with good planning.
Lebel estimated that the purchase might be made for $2 or $2.5 Million dollars. He said that the City is the only entity that could do this, and if the community center project fell through, the city could remarket and sell the property.
Bob Garrett said that we don't need to take the property off the tax rolls by buying it out from under a private purchaser.
Doc Rooney said he didn't mind taking it away from private individuals, but he didn't think the location was a proper place for a community center.
Kay Senter said that it's not good for athletics at this time and that we're not in a position to buy it outright. During the discussion, Kay also mentioned the Encore Theatre, Theatre Guild, Chamber of Commerce, an Antique Car Museum, and weddings. She said she had talked to some private individuals who might be interested in a public-private partnership.
Gene Brooks said: Where's the money?
Interim Administrator Buddy Fielder mentioned annual operating costs of around $500,000-$600,000 if fully staffed and operational.
Lebel commented that if this is not done now, "I bet everyone in this room will be dead before it's done."
Frank McGuffin told Kay that if there is someone interested in a public-private partnership, we can revisit this then.
No recommendation was made. The property is scheduled for foreclosure sale on October 8, 2009.