Huntington Council Members, Finance Chair Ponder Further Study for Naval Reserve Acquisition by Sanitary Board

by Tony Rutherford HuntingtonNews.Net Reporter

HUNTINGTON, WV (HNN) – The Finance Committee of Huntington City Council will be meeting, Monday May 9, 2011 at 5:15 p.m. in City Council chambers. The meeting will precede the regular meeting of council at 7:30 p.m. that evening.

One of the agenda items --- acquisition of the Huntington Sanitary Board of the former U.S. Naval Reserve property on Jackson Avenue --- received pointed questions from council members at the first reading prior to referral to Finance.

According to Loretta Covington, executive director of HSB, the building and land would be given to the City of Huntington with a stipulation that it be renovated. Metal thieves have stripped the structure of plumbing, electrical , and metals. That’s why Covington asks that a three year period be stipulated for completion of renovations and that the HSB would share space with several other city departments.

“We’ve been working on the application for several years,” Covington told council members, adding, the request from council was not an actual vote on accepting the property but a vote to grant authority for further steps in the authorization process.

HSB would not utilize the entire facility. Mayor Kim Wolfe indicated that a “huge savings” could be had by moving the Police impound lot to the proposed location. “The building is sound, but copper thieves have ransacked it.”

Council member Jim Ritter thought the $500,000 for renovations would be on the low end. “We’d like to take a look at this,” he said.

When council looked for a postponement , Covington warned, “I have a feeling they may withdraw.”

But, council member Jim Insco contended that the language of the resolution contained more than step in a process. He quoted passages from a contract that “the HSB has legal authority” and an authorization for the Mayor or administration to “prepare, file, plan, execute, and deliver” documents.

City Attorney Scott McClure told council the federal government has been “trying to give the building away since 2004.” He agreed with Nate Randolph that the current language “smells like an obligation.”


McClure agreed the last two paragraphs “implicate financial obligations,” thus a referral to the finance committee occurred.

Williams on Monday, May 2, questioned acquisition of another building by the city, recalling how a city with a tight budget 25 years ago (or so) accepted gifts from the former Corbin Ltd., Ensign Electric and Banks Miller Supply, which all had considerable upkeep accompanying acceptance.

Considering the “infrastructure challenges we have in town, the slides, storm sewer flooding, and paving, how can we take money out of our general fund budget to maintain [the structure]?”

Similarly, Williams would like to know the opinion of the two new Sanitary Board members on the possible property acquisition.

 

 

 

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