Council seeks details, 501-C3 for city school project

Published 1:04 am Wednesday, May 25, 2016

This building, once Florala City School and most recently known as Florala Middle School, was built in 1912.

This building, once Florala City School and most recently known as Florala Middle School, was built in 1912.

Disagreement over the exact wording of a motion approved earlier this month led to testy exchanges among members of the Florala City Council Monday night.

Two weeks ago, the council agreed to accept a proposal from Trebor/Selrahc, LLC to purchase the administrative building of Florala City School for $22,000, pending the approval of the city attorney.

The written proposal from the LLC, whose principals are Robert Bishop of Andalusia and Charles Smith of Laurel Hill, stated that the LLC would work with the yet-to-be-formed Save Our School Board to establish a 501-C3 and raise funds to restore the building, constructed in 1912. The proposal was good for 30 days.

Mayor Robert Williamson said Monday that city attorney Wes Laird had reviewed the proposal and recommended the city work with a tax attorney, and that the building be deeded to the planned 501-C3.

Councilwoman Ann Eason, who brought Trebor/Selrahc’s proposal to the council, argued that establishing a 501-C3 would take too long. She also argued that the council’s original vote was to sell the building to the LLC.

Eason said, “They need the building before they get the Save Our School Board.”

Pushing for an immediate decision, she added, “I need for it to be done so I can start getting donations.”

She said she already has contracted with a dance instructor to offer classes there in the fall.

“It will be for all the students of Florala if you want to apply,” she said.

Eason also circulated an additional letter from Trebor/Selrahc.

“It has been brought to our attention that there are a select few citizens spreading false information about our intentions for the FCS building,” the state said. “We want the mayor and council to know that, there are absolutely no plans on the part of Trebor/Selrahc, LLC, or the yet to be formed “Save Our School Board” to demolish this building and sell it’s (st.) brick and lumber as salvage material!”

The letter also stated, “Our intentions are to only do a part in securing this building so it may be preserved restored, and maintained for the use and enjoyment by all the citizens of our area.”

Mayor Williamson argued that the building has been empty for six years, and that taking time to complete the recommended legal processes should not pose a problem.

Eason argued that the city had been prepared to enter an agreement from other proposals without the obstacles being posed for the LLC.

Williamson said, “The public outcry is that residents do no want this building to be used for certain purposes. At least in some shape, form or fashion, they want it restored to 1912 grandeur.”

All sides have noble intentions, he said, but need to establish a clear, concise path.

The council agreed to have the mayor or a representative of the city meet with the attorney, a representative of the LLC, and its attorney to iron out an agreement.