By Jeff Jobe, Community Publisher
Barren County Progress, JPI
The City of Glasgow is a step closer to accepting ownership of another codes-plagued piece of property.
Except this time there are some unique twists never before offered.
Value is added for the property owner who has been negligent in maintenance and repairs, and discussion of value for the city as well.
Let’s break this down and try to understand all the positions being laid on the table and perhaps offer a few more for the city council to consider when voting on whether to assume ownership.
The issue making this project complicated is that an elected councilman owns the property being discussed and what they are considering hasn’t been offered in the past.
Will this set a new precedent or will it just be considered special treatment for the elected official?
This newspaper believes it is a slippery slope because our elected officials should guard themselves to make sure it is something they want to continue. The option of continuing is the only way it will pass the fair and balanced tests needed to be considered ethical.
Open record requests obtained by The Barren County Progress show this has never been done before and conversations with others who were either forced to sell or agreed to give property to the city feel it certainly would have been an option to explore.
Around ten years ago, properties located at the corner of South Green and South Public Square were bombarded with violations much like what Councilman Patrick Gaunce now finds associated with these particular properties.
The difference is the city would not entertain ownership, nor would they allow the buildings to be demolished, so the only option was to offer them to be sold.
A forced sale with known public violations drives the property value down and because these buildings are located inside the Glasgow Downtown Historical District, a private citizen doesn’t have the option to tear them down.
The properties located at the corner of South Public Square and South Green Street sold for $2,500 while Councilman Gaunce has negotiated a $70,000 tax credit in writing and possibly even has a promise for the city to make a pocket park on the land once it is cleaned.
The BCP would like to commend Glasgow Mayor Henry Royse for requiring the property to be free of asbestos prior to taking ownership, but disagree with his maintenance position for the retaining wall for the city lot.
Our photos will show there is no evidence of wall deterioration at this time other than the row of decorative brick across the top of the concrete wall. Something the city should place on their maintenance schedule along with violations of overgrown trees and grass not found on any existing complaint.
The photos will also show there is approximately 24 feet between the wall and the back of the building they want to tear down. It is the BCP’s position that a standing building required to be maintained like other properties on the square would not inhibit repairs if ever needed.
Further, if at some point in the future, the wall needed repair, it could be accessed from the top or from the side of the vacant lot now owned by the county.
As most anything in life has benefits but also possible detriments and as your community newspaper, hopefully some can be explained clearly.
Of course, a nice, landscaped lot would look better and help other property owners of our city rather than continuing to be owned by someone who refuses to comply with city ordinances and is sheltered because of his political status.
The past can be explained simply by saying mayors and councils of the past simply felt having property on tax rolls and our historical district was more valuable than assuming ownership, building pocket parks, and offering tax incentives, or that they just never thought of it.
The facts need to be placed in writing because handshakes among politicians are as only good as their next election and no elected official knows what the next election cycle can bring.
Councilman Gaunce has said numerous times that property on West Main now being used for a small portion of the new $40M Judicial Center had promises made to the former owners that it would be made into either a water park, amphitheater, or farmers market.
The mayor then and Gaunce may have had a handshake but it can’t be found in any contracts. The BCP has searched, because if it could have been found, it would be disclosed and supported following the agreement.
However, without having it in writing, the BCP was more in line with former Mayor Harold Armstrong wanting to place the judicial center front and center on that lot instead of pushed to the side behind anything else.
This newspaper doesn’t always like exposing the truth because often it comes down to confusing and misunderstandings, and sadly it has the same results: division, anger, and mistrust.
Many in the community urge for the City Attorney Rich Alexander to help Mayor Henry Royse and Patrick Gaunce write up very clearly what they propose so the community understands and can make plans for others to possibly follow and do the same. Two downtown buildings are in far worse condition than this one, and removing them would be a tremendous asset to all of Glasgow.
As a final thought, the BCP would hope to accept this write-off for a sitting (and voting) council member would have it put in writing that he will have 30 days to have all his other property maintained.
Many have witnessed Gaunce get the best of the last three mayors because of division and/or manipulation; it is of genuine concern that the Progress looks forward to see if having Mayor Royse push for this write-off will be a benefit to Glasgow or a manipulation by Gaunce.
The contract in place will go a long way to protect himself and many are hopeful it helps us all.