Several parcels of property owned by the city of Russellville will soon be going up for sale.
Neighboring property owners will be made aware of the process, which will either be accomplished by sealed bid or auction. However, anyone will have the opportunity to bid.
Councilman Bill Decker spear-headed the idea of getting rid of some of the city’s properties to help alleviate the burden of maintenance. When Decker pitched his idea to his fellow council members, he said the street department had better things to do with their time than have to maintain useless property. Plus, the city could generate funds from the sale.
In 1986, the city was awarded an urban renewal grant and purchased several small lots throughout the city. Since then, nothing has been done with the lots, and the city is required to maintain them, which takes time and money.
A committee was formed to look into Decker’s idea including himself, the city’s zoning administrator, Bill Pearson and a few other council members.
Decker gave a committee report Tuesday at the regular council meeting, handing out a list of several properties the committee had gathered which could be sold. They included properties on East Fifth Street, East Sixth Street, South Caldwell Street, East Third Street and Bluegrass Drive. Most of the lots are in a flood plain and building a home on them would be almost impossible due to the cost it would take to elevate the property.
“Some of these lots are close to flood plains and it’s a real hazard to build a house on. Some of them you may be able to get a permit for, but it would cost you about $600 just to get the engineering done to allow them to do that and they still may turn them down. It’s kind of a shot in the dark,” said Pearson. “But some of them are viable lots.”
Decker mentioned that a garage or small building could be placed on the properties or a garden. He thought the properties may be desired by those who live beside them.
“I think we need to give the neighbors an opportunity if nothing for a garden spot,” said Decker.
The lots on the corner of South Caldwell and East Sixth Streets were once the location for the city’s community garden, however, the project never quite blossomed and the city began mowing over it. Pearson said he remembers when the city was going to donate that corner to Habitat For Humanity, but it turned out it would be to costly for the non-profit to elevate the property to protect a home from flooding.
“It’s a shame you can’t build on them, because they are beautiful lots,” said Decker, speaking of the two in Brookhaven subdivision.
Some of the properties’ value has already been assessed and some have not. The city intends to have all the properties assess first before putting them up for sale. It was also mentioned the city would place a reserve minimum on each parcel, but they didn’t decide if they would accept sealed bids or put the properties on the auction block.
Decker suggested the funds generated from the sale of the property should be put into the reserve/emergency fund which already holds $25,000. He had said rather the current council or a future council, there may be something unexpected that comes up where they will be glad that have that money put aside.
Mayor Mark Stratton mentioned possibly using some of the funds for repairing sidewalks in the areas where the property is sold.
“I think as bad of shape some of our sidewalks are in I certainly wouldn’t have a problem with that because we need to do some sidewalk repairs,” said Decker.
The council voted unanimously to declare the committee’s purposed properties surplus. An ad will now be placed in the newspaper and the city will begin the process of having the properties assessed for value.