West Pelzer moves forward on property purchase

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For new town hall

By Stan Welch

The West Pelzer Town Council held a special called meeting last Thursday to consider possible means of purchasing the old NAPA store at 30 Main Street. The meeting was necessary in order to meet the deadline for exercising the Town’s option to purchase. The proposal, which would involve the purchase and renovation of the current NAPA store location at 30 Main Street, would upgrade and centralize the town’s governmental functions, as well as anchoring what Mayor Sanders sees as the downtown business district.

The store front location is adjacent to the Chapman Park, which in turn abuts the existing town hall parking lot, and also accesses Hindman Street. The acquisition of the building would essentially triple the available space for the various municipal offices, and counrtroom.

In addition to the $95,000 asking price, Sanders projected an additional cost of $100 – $160,000 in improvements, to include roofing, HVAC, and electrical issues. The building will also have to be ADA (American Disabilities Act) compliant. In addition, the paving of the parking lot will solve the ADA compliance issue for the existing park.

Councilman Jimmy Jeanes, who had asked for a day or two to review the proposals, challenged Sanders’ estimate of the remodeling costs, stating that those costs might go as high as three hundred fifty thousand dollars. “I have built buildings myself, many of them, and I have built on to buildings. I know what I’m talking about,” said Jeanes.

His option would be to add on to the existing town hall, with the possibility of purchasing additional land in the area behind that building. Councilman Jim Riddle supported Sanders’ proposals, saying “ We can’t move forward without moving. As to the costs, they aren’t going to come down in the future.”

Sanders stressed the value of having town hall on Main Street as an attraction for more businesses. “We currently have seventy two per cent of our available business sites vacant. Is this purchase a good investment? I think it is, even if we were to sell it in a few years.

The first option for completing the purchase and renovations would be to purchase the building with a loan. The monthly payment on such a loan would range from just over $300 a month (30 year note) to $388 a month (20 year note) to $648 a month, (15 year note) an amount described by Sanders as being “well within affordability based on previous budget savings.” This option would allow completion of the project in one year.

Alternative two differs essentially in that it would spread the renovations over three years. In either case, the town hall will remain where it is until final completion of the project. Either alternative will involve the use of the remaining balance of contingency funds currently being held in abeyance until the completion of the phase two sewer project. Sanders said that the latest estimate on how much of that money will be left when the project winds down in the coming weeks is approximately $75,000.

Jeanes repeated his concerns that a change in the town’s financial fortunes might force a stoppage of the project. “I just think we should be sure we have the money needed. We might have to stop in the middle of this thing. You just don’t know. I’m in favor of doing something about the town hall, but I just can’t support this.”

Following a lengthy discussion, Sanders moved to proceed with the purchase and the Council voted 3-1 in favor, with Councilman Donnie Jeanes absent, due to being out of town.