Barry Joe Wright wants the county to slow down on the idea of purchasing Wildcat Hollow Boy Scout Camp. The Third District Magistrate is concerned about the lack of planning behind the initiative and the possibility of future costs associated if the county were to obtain the property.
Wright made his feelings known during a meeting of the fiscal court Feb. 14, when he along with magistrate Drexel Johnson, voted against the motion to offer $1.1 million dollars to the Boy Scouts of America to buy 758 acres. The motion passed with magistrates Dickie Carter, Jack Crossley, Jo Orange and Thomas Bouldin voting to proceed, along with Judge Executive Logan Chick.
Wright once again attempted to slow momentum down at the Tuesday, Feb. 28 fiscal court meeting, when he made a motion to rescind the decision. Magistrate Johnson still on board with Wright, added magistrate Jack Crossley, who this time voted with Wright and Johnson.
“I was afraid if I didn’t vote for trying to purchase the camp in the beginning we could lose it,” said Crossley. “I would love to see the county have this property, but we need to study on it more. We need to have a better feeling about what it will cost if we get it. It won’t break the bank to buy it, but we need to see how much it will cost to manage it once we get it. I have had several phones calls from people telling me they were glad that I voted to rescind.”
Wright’s attempts to put the brakes on, however, did not stop the preference of Carter, Orange, Bouldin and Chick to move forward as Wright’s motion was squelched by a tie, with Chick breaking it in favor of the offer.
“I think it’s a rash move to stop the process at this time,” said Chick. “We have plenty of time before the scouts meet in this month to look into insurance costs and grant opportunities.”
Wright said he had received over 50 telephone calls from constituents in his district that are against it.
“I think this could put a hardship on the county,” said Wright, who mentioned he was concerned about the possibility of raising taxes to pay for it. “What is wrong with slowing the process down until we come up with how much it may cost us and what grants are actually available?
Magistrate Johnson is concerned about the financial aspect of the plan as well.
“I am not against the idea, but we don’t know how much this will cost us down the road,” said Johnson. “I’ve got 20 plus miles of gravel roads still in my district.”
Magistrate Dickie Carter is against slowing down at all. “We will lose this opportunity,” he said. “I don’t want to back down.”
During Tuesday’s meeting, John Ferris addressed magistrates asking them several questions concerning the purchase. Ferris has been a resident and businessman in Logan County for 40 years.
“Do you have specific plans for the camp?” asked Ferris. “No, not specific,” answered magistrate Bouldin. “Have you looked into how much it will cost to maintain?” asked Ferris. Judge Chick answered saying he looked at Warren County’s budget for one of its parks and it was $350,000 annually. “Have you looked at actual cost for insurance on the property?” Ferris asked. Judge Chick said he hadn’t, but didn’t believe it would go up.
“I think you are making a big mistake,” said Ferris to the court. “I’m very much against this and there will be a reckoning down the road.”
Magistrate Thomas Bouldin explained why he voted to offer to purchase the property.
“In my opinion it would be greatly different if the county had no money,” Bouldin said. “I don’t see a difference in letting $1.1 million dollars sit in a bank drawing little to no interest and it sitting in property. It all comes down to quality of life. There are so many people that work in Logan County, but they live in a neighboring county due to more amenities. My only goal short term is to buy the land. If years down the road we can’t fund it and y’all want to sell it, we can. It’s a no brainer to me.”
To contact Chris Cooper, email [email protected] or call 270-726-8394.