VIDEO: Fort Payne determined to do away with MAPCO Building
May 3, 2017
Southern Torch (3854 articles)
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VIDEO: Fort Payne determined to do away with MAPCO Building

PHOTO: The Old Mapco Building greets travelers as they enter town by way of Highway 35, and many consider to be an eyesore. (Tyler Pruett | Southern Torch)

(Video at the Bottom)

By Tyler Pruett, Managing Editor 

tyler@southerntorch.com

FORT PAYNE, Ala. – “Before I leave this place, there is two things I want to get done, if at all possible,” said Fort Payne Mayor Larry Chesser, in the Mayor’s portion of this week’s council meeting.

“And one of them is to get rid of that Mapco Station. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m tired of waiting on them,” said Chesser.

“I checked the tax records to see what they were appraised for, and I’ve talked to a local appraiser, to give me the value of what It appears the price we’ve given them is an above market price,” explained Chesser.

“I would like to have the OK to get a certified appraiser, an out of town appraiser, to come in and appraise that property, and see if it’s feasible to go through the condemnation process,” stated the mayor.

Fort Payne City Attorney Rocky Watson then explained the condemnation process:

“One of the first things you’re required to do if you decide to condemn property, is to present the landowner with an appraisal. And there is people who pretty much specialize in those kind of appraisals. Getting the appraisal does not obligate you to condemn the property,” said Watson.

“Start the process, get the property appraised, and notify them that that’s being considered. That may have one of two effects, we either may decide we want to condemn it, or they may decide they want to get off their rear and get the deal that we’ve already made done,” Watson continued.

“Well I was under the impression that we already had a verbal agreement,” said Councilman Gerald Taylor.

“We had a verbal agreement but a verbal agreement on land isn’t enforceable,” replied Watson. “We have one and we’ve had drafts that we’ve sent back and forth with changes, but at some point during that process, the ownership of MAPCO changed.”

“Regardless, can we not open a dialogue with the people?” asked Taylor.

“We’ve tried really hard to talk to them, to open a dialogue with them, but we can’t get anyone to talk to us,” answered Watson, after explaining the back-and-forth between the city and MAPCO.

“I’d like to see us put a little bit of pressure on it,” said Mayor Chesser.

“What I’m suggesting is, if everyone is committed to getting rid of that eye-sore, that’s down there next to the park,” explained Watson. “Go ahead and….. You’re not going through the process of condemnation.”

“If you’re looking at what the mayor has been told by a realtor here in town, and what the tax assessors shows, of course thats usually low for commercial property, it may be that you can condemn it and get it for less money,” stated Watson.

“I think when they understand that we’ll continue down this path with or without their cooperation, they may deem it more beneficial to open this conversation at this point,” continued Watson.

“My suggestion is that you authorize the employment of the of the appraiser, see what’s worth,” said Watson.

The second item that Chesser wanted to see happen, regards the demolition and cleanup of the old hospital building in the middle of town. The process has been going on for a while, but is more complicated than many may realize.

“We’re still working with ADEM and EPA, ADEM is in the process of doing the second phase, EPA has to take the things that they find in the second phase, run them through a lab, do lab work, and all this stuff, so it’s a long drawn out process.”

“We stand a good chance off getting it done, it may be three or four years,” added the mayor.

The city is looking to condemn and acquire the building to demolish it, but due to the presence of asbestos and fuel tanks underneath, the work will be costly, and will require extensive cleanup. If the process is approved by the EPA, the government will help with the costs.

Watch the Full Video:

Other items addressed at the meeting: 

  • Declared certain recreation department air conditioners surplus items. The City found a buyer for $2200 for the old equipment.

    The Fort Payne Council looks over bids for paving materials. (Tyler Pruett | Southern Torch)

  • Road Work Authorized. An agreement with the Alabama Department of Transportation to make improvements and extensions to Echols Drive.
  • Fix Landfill equipment. Accepted low bid for landfill scraper pan repair.
  • Accepted low bid for plant mix. Wiregrass Construction was the only bid submitted. Prices are $.70 per ton more expensive this year.
  • Discussed replacing air conditioner at Senior Center. The city decided to seek bids to replace an air conditioning unit at the senior center before the weather gets too hot. The council also asked Watson to consider renegotiating the contract.
  • Veteran’s Day Parade. The city set the date for Friday, November 10th and has gotten a military band. Fort Payne is also looking into having a flyover.

The next meeting of the Fort Payne City Council will be held on May 16, 2017 at 12 noon in Fort Payne City Hall.

Southern Torch

Southern Torch

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