Newly appointed Piedmont Mayor Bill Baker said Fagan had recently offered to sell the park to the city for $200,000. Council members balked at the price and voted to counter that offer with one of $100,000.
“I know we need it, but not this much,” Councilman Terry Kiser said, referring to Fagan’s asking price.
The city would use money it has in hand from an existing bond issue to pay for the park, officials said.
Baker said that Fagan, owner of both the old mill and the park, is in talks with a company that wants to buy the mill and tear it down to salvage its brick and timber for resale. If the city doesn’t buy the park, Baker said, the salvage company may.
Baker said he was did not know which company is offering to buy the building or when that sale might be final, but he said it could be soon. He told the City Council he was planning to call Fagan after its meeting to tell the former mayor what it decided to do, but before the council made its decision he emphasized that Fagan was “firm on the $200,000” offer.
An attempt to reach Fagan late Tuesday to find out more about the sale of the park and of the mill was not successful.
Each council member who spoke about the park said it would be nice for the city to own it, but just one, Councilwoman Brenda Spears, supported paying $200,000 for the property. She made a motion to pay Fagan’s asking price; no other council members supported her motion.
All but two council members voted in favor of giving Fagan $100,000 for the park. Spears and Councilman Ben Keller voted against it and Councilwoman Mary Bramblett abstained from voting on the measure.
Spears and Bramblett did not say why they didn’t support the measure, but Councilman Ben Keller said it didn’t make sense to spend more than $75,000 on the park, pointing out that the city would have to pay to maintain the property. In addition to keeping the grass cut and doing lawn work, the city would also have to buy insurance on the property if it buys the park.
Councilman Frank Cobb suggested the $100,000 price tag and voted in support of it, but he said it wouldn’t be worth more than that unless it could be used as a commercial property.
“I would love to have a park. I think it would be useful to the city,” Cobb said. “I just really feel like the offer Mr. Fagan has made to the council is a little steep.”
In other business, Bramblett was named mayor pro tem, a position that allows its holder to act as mayor during the regular mayor’s absence.
Baker held that position until earlier this month when he was selected to serve as mayor after former Mayor Rick Freeman resigned for health reasons.
The council also began seeking a candidate to fill the District 6 council seat, which Baker vacated to become mayor. Potential candidates must be registered to vote in district six to qualify for the position.
City Clerk Michelle Franklin is compiling names of people who would like the job and at the first November meeting she will submit the list of names to the council.
At the second meeting in November the council plans to vote to select one of the candidates to fill the vacant council seat.
Staff writer Laura Gaddy: 256-235-3544. On Twitter @LGaddy_Star.