County: Let’s sell ball fields soon

Published 12:01am Wednesday, October 10, 2012

It’s time to get on the ball and sell the “ball field property,” commissioners agreed Tuesday.

Commissioners voted in 2009 to sell the 68 acres located behind the Kiwanis Building, but since then, no buyers have expressed an interest.

The property was initially purchased in 1998 in the hope it would become home to an estimated 15 baseball fields for area youth. An $800,000 appropriation in a 2005 bond issue was designated for the project, but that money was redirected in 2008 for capital improvement projects, including a new roof at the Covington County Courthouse.

However, in the years since, expanded recreational opportunities in Andalusia, Opp and Florala have negated the need for a county complex, commissioners said Tuesday.

“We’ve already voted on the sale, but we need to put up signage; put it on the Internet; do something to get some action on it,” said Commissioner David Ellis. “(The county) gives money to help with recreation in all three of our cities.”

Commissioner Carl Turman said, “There’s nothing I’d like better than to have a nice county complex but the fact is, we can’t maintain it, and we shouldn’t ask county residents to do it either.”

Commissioner Bragg Carter said, “I think we’ve got recreation taken care of in the county.”

Tuesday, County Administrator Brenda Petty was instructed to use all means necessary to dispose of the property. She said she would list it on the Internet, place signage and advertise it in print publications, such as the newspaper.

“The property has to be sold for fair market value, and I talked with a real estate person the other day who said the appraised amount hasn’t changed,” Petty said.

In 2009, the property appraised at $255,000. Then, Petty also said an estimated $15,000 was given in donations “10 to 12 years ago” to purchase the property, and it would have to be researched to determine who had donated and how much had been donated.

“Giving it back, that’s the right thing to do,” Turman said then.

Petty later said when the property is sold, those funds would be placed in an escrow account since the property was purchased with bond money.

“We would have to set (any money from the sales) aside to retire the debt on them — which is exactly what we need to do,” she said then. “That way it helps the cash flow.”

In other business, the commission voted to:

• purchase and finance six new sheriff’s office patrol cars. The vehicles, which were included in the 2013 budget, will cost, in total, $205,230. The purchase will be financed in four annual payments of $54,243 at an interest rate of 2.24 percent.

• allow the county engineer to negotiate a bid for curb and gutter; and,

• hold the next meeting on Oct. 31 at 9:30 a.m. This will be the last meeting of the current administration.

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