By Rosemary K. Otzman
At Monday’s meeting, the Belleville City Council approved making two parcels the city owns available to the Belleville Area District Library at a total price of $250,000.
The parcel on which the library building is located was appraised at $200,000 and the municipal parking lot across Fourth Street from the library was appraised at $50,000.
City attorney Steve Hitchcock said he received the appraisals over the phone from the appraiser and he will be getting them in writing, but there is no reason to think the numbers will change.
The library board has listed these two city locations as part of the proposed sites for a new library and was pushing for the city to give it an answer on these sites.
The five proposed library sites will be presented to the public at a 7 p.m., Oct. 2, meeting at the Belleville High School mini-auditorium. The library board is expected to make a site selection at its Oct. 8 regular meeting.
The city’s option agreement for land purchase stipulates that, if purchased, the site of the present library at 167 Fourth Street and the municipal parking lot across the street must be used for library purposes only for 30 years.
The original option agreement written by Hitchcock had said the land had to be used for library purposes, period (forever). Library attorney John Day had asked for a time limit and the city council agreed to 30 years.
The exclusive option to sell the property only to the library runs through July 31, 2015. A token $1 fee paid was paid to the city by the library in consideration of the mutual agreements.
The library has until Dec. 15 to give the city an additional option fee of $500 and until Dec. 15, 2014 to pay an additional fee of $500.
If either of these payments are not made on time and after 10 days following written demand for said payments, the option shall terminate.
If the library decides to purchase the property it has until July 31, 2015 to tell the city in writing and closing on the sale must be no less than 90 days later.
Possession shall be immediate and the Feb. 16, 2010 lease of $1 between the city and the library shall be void, with no liens on the property at time of closing.
The library can cancel the option at any time with written notice and the city can keep all the payments made to that date.
The council gave Mayor Kerreen Conley authority to sign the agreement on behalf of the city for between a minimum of $200,000 to $250,000 as a total price, giving her some wiggle room if the written appraisal should come in for less.
Planning Commissioner Mike Renaud questioned the value of Fourth Street located between the two parcels they have agreed to sell, adding the city would be giving that away for nothing.
Former Councilman George Chedraue mentioned a lease and Councilwoman Kim Tindall said there is a lease for $1.
Chedraue, an attorney, pointed out that attorney John Day drafted the lease for both the library and the city council, since he represented those two clients at the same time at that point.
Former mayor Tom Fielder said many people in the city want the library to remain in the city and he urged the council to try and work with the library board and not against them. Mayor Conley nodded in agreement.
In other business at Monday’s meeting, the city council:
• After a lengthy discussion, set a public hearing for 7 p.m., Oct. 21, on a proposed Fireworks Safety Standards ordinance. Mayor Conley explained attorney Hitchcock prepared the ordinance in response to citizen and council concerns of the changes in state law regarding fireworks. Trustee Jack Loria said they should look into the APA Standards mentioned in the new ordinance before the public hearing;
• Removed from the council follow-up list a Meet/Greet with State Rep. Dian Slavens, which has been on the list for a year. Trustee Tom Smith asked that the item be removed. Slavens is in her last year as representative because of term limits;
• Gave the Downtown Development Authority permission to dispose of 20 streetscape benches from the old streetscape. The DDA is considering advertised bids, auction or other means of selling the items;
• Approved SMART municipal credits for 2014, which are the same as for 2013, $3,914. Earlier it was announced the funding would be cut in half, but the State legislature restored it to 100%;
• Approved accounts payable of $932,751.97 and the following departmental purchases in excess of $500: to Allie Brothers, $763.30 for police uniforms; to R. Dixon & Sons, $655 for grass cutting; and to Work N Gear, $2,700 for 2012/13 uniforms; and
• Removed from the agenda a resolution to give fire fighters a raise from $17 flat fee for in-station practice and $5 an hour for off-site training to $20 for practice and in-station training and $10 an hour for off-site training. There was no explanation for its removal from the agenda.
By Rosemary K. Otzman