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Take the Property

Take the Property: The deception is destroying good people and hurting us all!

Commentary by Jeff Jobe, Community Publisher

The council should take the Patrick Gaunce property because he has allowed it to deteriorate terribly, and this council as a whole doesn’t have the integrity to force him to comply with ordinances other property owners must adhere to.

Gaunce has allowed what could have been a beautiful addition to our historical downtown district to deteriorate to the point of having serious structural damage.

A closer picture of the exposed exterior rafters and loose brick because of erosion. Why would the city give $70,000 tax credit for a building they will be tearing down and never doing it before? Photo | Barren County Progress

His initial speculative blunder was to buy and sell to the county for the home of the then $32M courthouse. This offered him shelter from routine maintenance mandated by city ordinances others must comply with.

Ordinances council members are elected to enforce equally, yet he uses his position to garner special favor. He said numerous times back then, “I am still in the running for the new home for the courthouse and this is why I refuse to do anything.” Heck, all of downtown was in the running much of this time. Some may remember he didn’t even have the ethics to remove himself from a vote dealing with issues in which he had potential financial gain.

He then made a public video just days before the last city council election making promises to help this area of downtown.

Interior ceilings have begun to fall because of eroding water through the ceiling. Photo | Barren County Progress

He has used the charity Bridge Kentucky to funnel tax deductions as a means to paint the side of one of his buildings, and as of press time, still refusing to disclose details of how hundreds of thousands of dollars coming from Barren County Schools have passed through this non-profit. Something the Attorney General will more than likely have to assist in retrieving.

So, let me be clear.

It is a good deal for Glasgow to take the property. The city has taken other properties that have owners too lazy or do not have the finances to maintain. This is exactly where Gaunce is and there’s nothing wrong with helping him as we do other citizens in need.

Yet, the city has never given a tax statement to other property owners for their property and Gaunce should get no favor. He isn’t helping taxpayers, he is hurting us, because he has allowed part of our cities’ historical value to be lost forever. I would suspect his CPA could determine a value and make a good legal argument of value for taxes.

Let’s also be clear and to the point that the vote should be clean and documents written exactly like when they take other properties.

No promises for what is being done or future uses, we have seen what promises have done to Glasgow. Take it, clean it up, and sell it to someone who has the resources and talent to make something useful out of it. This puts it back on tax rolls like all other properties taken.

For the sake of Glasgow, and those of us who work hard and sacrifice every day to pay the ever-increasing taxes and extremely high energy costs, create jobs, and maintain our properties, stop with the manipulation making it look necessary to own this dilapidated building.

Exposed broken glass on sidewalks of the Gaunce building. Photo | Barren County Progress

Here is what we have witnessed so far:

Gaunce attended a Glasgow Downtown Historical Commission and gave notice that he would be donating the historical building to the city to be torn down to make a pocket park. In exchange, he would be getting a tax credit.

In that meeting, Mayor Henry Royse said, “This is the first I have heard of this.”

We then read about city employee April Russell saying in an open meeting that Judge/Exec. Jamie Byrd approached her.

Russell said the first person she spoke with was Mayor Royse, prior to Gaunce.

Judge/Exec. Byrd told the Progress that she has not approached Patrick Gaunce or knowledge of anyone doing so for the purpose of him donating land for a “pocket park”. She said she wouldn’t consider such a thing until discussing it with magistrates and having the county attorney on board.  She said until the courthouse is finished she isn’t interested in another project.

She and I actually discussed having steps placed on the county lot, similar to ones across the street as a means to make it functional and more attractive. The irony is it would help anyone with a business in the Gaunce building.

After we reported these facts, Russell changed her story to say it was just some discussion about a lot of things with the Judge-Executive.

Gaunce actually says in open meeting he wanted to make a clarification on the record. He said, “I want it to be known that the city and county approached me.”

In the same meeting, he was asked who from the city and who from the county approached him. It seems he wasn’t being honest when he said he was approached by the county. It was only Russell he spoke with and nobody from the county. Russell was in the room and didn’t speak up.

Mayor Royse states that the City Engineer (Jim McGowan) says the city needs the property to have access to the wall for maintenance of the parking lot wall. The BCP reported there is some 24’ between the wall and the Gaunce building. We believe there is no need at all to have the building removed to access.

In the most recent Glasgow Finance Committee meeting, McGowan himself said the wall behind the Gaunce building is actually in “pretty decent shape”. The wall with issues is the wall owned by the city and behind the county lot.

Now we witness something in the same finance committee meeting I can’t believe and a fact that will surely show up in my book.

Mayor Royse introduces Kevin Myatt, Director of the Planning and Zoning Commission. He explained how the new courthouse being built doesn’t have enough land to accommodate the required number of parking spaces for a building this size.

I am amazed to witness the same people who fought former Glasgow Mayor MD Armstrong in selling enough land to have the courthouse sit front and center and restrict what would be sold now use the need for parking as a reason to accept Gaunce’s building and give him a tax credit.

We have witnessed and this newspaper reported how these individuals cost taxpayers because the footprint originally used was for a very large two-story building now being pushed into a three-story building needing less land. Naturally, having three floors increases hallways, elevators, and I believe there was discussion of bathroom access not originally planned.

It would be far less costly to simply give our County a small additional footprint of land down there close to the building instead of pretending anybody would want to walk up “suicide hill” to park.

There is not a customer-friendly business anywhere that would put their personal parking up next to the entrance and require customers to park so far away.

Gaunce and his terrible ideas have a way of dividing our town; and because of him, we have had three one-term mayors. He will either make it appear he owns the mayor or he fights them at every turn. He has caused enough division to cost good people their positions of mayor while being protected himself, because he only has to come in the top nine.

I believe Gaunce’s election failure is coming and it could be this cycle, because as he rallies support for his personal projects, it exposes the weak council members who vote with him, and the challenging slate this time is very solid.

But, if not, we can certainly expect Mayor Royse to have a challenger if he continues to allow Gaunce to manipulate him.

Exposed exterior rafters and loose brick because of erosion. Why would the city give $70,000 tax credit for a building they will be tearing down and never doing it before? Photo | Barren County Progress

 

1 Comment

  1. Lucy woodcock on February 24, 2024 at 7:17 am

    I am very happy to read reporting from a true reporter. Most of the time the readers wouldn’t even know the things that go on behind goverment doors. We wouldn’t know at election times what people would benefit the regular tax payers.
    I am grateful you are standing up for truth and not just out for the popularity prize.

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