Thursday, January 18, 2018

Commissioners debate possible acquisition of the 200+acre Gambit Golf Course for new county office complex

There was a full house Tuesday morning for the Johnson County Commissioners' regular meeting in the courtroom annex. Two of the three commissioners have proposed purchasing the closed Gambit Golf Course for the purpose of building a new county office complex there. More than forty county residents were at the meeting. Half of those in attendance voiced opposition to the proposal while the other half supports it. The discussion was postponed until the next meeting on Tuesday, May 24, at 6:00 p.m. in the Vienna High School commons. The Vienna Times photo
There was a full house Tuesday morning for the Johnson County Commissioners’ regular meeting in the courtroom annex. Two of the three commissioners have proposed purchasing the closed Gambit Golf Course for the purpose of building a new county office complex there. More than forty county residents were at the meeting. Half of those in attendance voiced opposition to the proposal while the other half supports it. The discussion was postponed until the next meeting on Tuesday, May 24, at 6:00 p.m. in the Vienna High School commons. The Vienna Times photo

Editor’s note: The next regularly scheduled meeting of the Johnson County Board of Commissioners will be Tuesday, May 24. However, the meeting time and location has been changed to include a town hall meeting to receive public input of potential land acquisition for a future county office complex.

The next Johnson County Board of Commissioner’s meeting will be Tuesday, May 24, at 6:00 p.m. in Vienna High School’s commons.

The general public is encouraged to attend the meeting to voice their opinion and concerns.

 

The May 10 meeting of the Johnson County Commissioners began at 8:30 a.m. in the Johnson County Courtroom Annex.

Deedee Adams spoke to the commissioners about a public roadblock issue with a piece of property she is buying. The only current access to the property is through a private property. There appears to be an old public road running past it, but that road has been blocked off.

Research into the matter reveals that the public road is still officially open and has never been closed. The public road crosses private property.

The state’s attorney Tamara Cain will research the matter.

Ron Taylor was re-appointed to the New Burnside Water District board.

One of Big Boy’s partners was bought out. This resulted in a need to have a commissioner sign agreement to allow the transfer of the liquor license out of the former partner’s name. The commissioners agreed.

Discussion of the sheriff’s union was removed from the agenda.

The commissioners approved a request for another video gambling machine at Big Boy’s.

Land acquisition:

More than 40 Johnson County citizens were in attendance of the meeting for the commissioners’ discussion of purchasing the Gambit Golf Course as a potential site for the future Johnson County Courthouse.

When asked by the board chairman to speak up, there were 11 attendees that verbally supported the idea, while 11 attendees were obviously against it. There was another five who could go either way.

A major concern was of homeowners who live in the area around the golf course. That region is considered a high rent district. Property values are higher in that area because of the golf course, and its current condition is creating an eyesore for homeowners in the area.

School officials were also present to add their perspective.

“The opportunity to put private property on that parcel and add or maintain a property tax revenue is advantageous to the public schools in this county,” Vienna Grade School superintendent Greg Frehner stated.

“The best thing you could have done, was to look and consider out there,” a licensed negotiator stated. “Just because you looked out there, prices on everything else will drop. Why are we in a hurry? Is there a reason we have to decide right away? Your best tools are time and an alternative place. If there is not a hurry, take a deep breath.”

Vienna High School superintendent Josh Stafford also spoke about trying to retain the Gambit as a golf course, as both part of the tax revenue base and for its economic value.

An argument erupted between commissioners Fred Meyer and Ernie Henshaw regarding the industrial park locations.

“Those sites in the site study have those sites at zero dollars. Why not save the county a million dollars and build there,” Meyer stated.

“Wait a minute, you’re confused on something, those sites aren’t zero dollars.” Henshaw stated.

“It says on there land acquisition zero!” Meyer yelled.

“It says that because we don’t know what that cost is. The USDA sets the value of those sites,” Henshaw explained.

“Well why does it say zero?” Meyer asked.

“Because we don’t know what that cost is,” Henshaw stated.

Chairman Phil Stewart asked for a motion to postpone.

Henshaw wanted clarification first.

“What are we trying to do? Are we trying to buy the parcel the hotel is sitting on? Are we trying to buy the whole golf course? Are we trying to own the golf course and find someone to lease the golf course to? I’d like some direction?” Henshaw asked.

“This is all up in the air, we’re trying to get it together,” Meyer responded.

“So why did we have an emergency meeting to discuss buying 237 acres three days ago?” Henshaw asked.

“Because, I heard they would only sell it all together, is what I heard,” Stewart responded.

Meyer accused Henshaw of only wanting the courthouse built on Vienna’s square.

“If I was so sold on that argument, when Jeff Mears sat on this board in 2014, he and I could have passed a motion to have the courthouse built at this location and that would be that. I’m still looking for what’s best for Johnson County,” Henshaw responded.

Stewart called for a motion to postpone and the discussion will be resumed at the next meeting.

In other business:

Building repairs to the county clerk’s office cost the county $550. Bricks that were falling away from the building and onto the street and sidewalk were replaced and the wall reinforced.

Newcomb Heating and Air were requested to be present at the next meeting to discuss cleaning the duct work in the county buildings with peroxide as a further measure to battle the county’s mold problem.

Highway bills totaled $104,378.48.

County bills totaled $97,910.47.

At the end of the meeting it was revealed by commissioner Meyer that had Steve Sims, the architect who worked with the county for the feasibility study, and whom the commissioners have unofficially agreed that they want to hire for the project, design a one story building.

He had this building designed with no input or knowledge of the other commissioners or the department heads. Meyer’s argument that it was okay for him to have the building design drawn up, was that having the building designed was free.

Henshaw motioned for the board to enter into executive session.

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