City Council rejects Lake Louise offer
by Emily McLain
SYLACAUGA – The City Council unanimously rejected an offer for the purchase of city-owned acreage at Lake Louise at its meeting Wednesday morning.

Residents Bob and Carolyn Green submitted a $185,000 cash offer last month for 57.3 acres at the lake off Old Birmingham Highway. According to their proposal, one 55-acre parcel, which includes the lake, is valued at $110,000, and a second 2.3-acre parcel is valued at $25,200 for a total estimated worth of $135,200.

“The parcels are adjacent to our properties in the Lake Louise area,” the proposal stated. “The lake is currently infested with nutria rats and beavers, which has caused flooding and is destroying trees, vegetation and the general integrity of the surrounding area. The 55-area parcel of land is mostly unusable due to its classification as a wetland by the US Fish and Wildlife Service. This federal classification greatly limits how the land can be used and how it must be managed. In making this offer, I fully understand these limitations and am prepared to adhere to all guidelines regarding wetlands.”

Mayor Doug Murphree said at a June 17 council work session that the land, given to the city by Avondale Mills years ago, has serious flooding issues, and he did not see the city ever developing it. At that time, councilmen seemed to support the sale of the land, but decided to look into it further before making a decision. At a work session July 1, Murphree said he was since informed that part of the property in question is hoped to be used for a “connector road” from Talladega County 511 to Alabama 21 at some point in the future.

Councilman Tom Roberts said he was “hit by an awful lot of people” about this subject, and “one particular factor that got a lot of attention from a lot of people is the fact that (Lake Louise is) a spring-fed lake that has never gone dry…That could possibly end up being an important water source for us down the road. In general, people that talked to me about it were very adamant and very passionate, and they were not in favor.”

Other councilmen said they received the same reaction from citizens.

In other business at Wednesday’s meeting, the council:

• Observed a moment of silence for Faye Hosey, who died June 28 at the age of 88. Hosey worked in the City Clerk’s office for 61 years. Murphree remembered her as “unique” and an “icon here in City Hall.”

• Set a public hearing for Aug. 7 at 9 a.m. to determine if the following nuisance structures are eligible for demolition through the city’s Community Development Block Grant project: 314 Coaling Rd., 1191 Goodwater Highway, 511 W. Coosa St., 333 W. Park St., 820 Oldfield Rd., 5th and Louisville Northeast corner, 308 S. Main Ave., 156 E. Bay St., 30 Falcon Lane, 169 Falcon Lane, 50 Hawk Lane, 27 Hawk Lane.

• Renewed promissory notes between the city, Utilities Board and Industrial Development Board for funding of IDB speculative building No. 3.

• Accepted a clean audit from Machen, McChesney & Chastain for the fiscal year ending September 2012.

• Approved a contract agreement with the state Department of Corrections for inmate labor during demolition of the old jail at the Municipal Complex.

• Approved a contract with Lathan Associates Architects for professional services, including bid preparation, for the City Hall roof project.

• Authorized City Hall Improvements project manager Mike Whetstone to consult with Lathan Architects for projects that require public bid and also for design-only services relative to City Hall renovations.

• Appointed Jim Green to a three-year Historical Commission term ending March 2015, and re-appointed Carol Woodring and Bill Roberts to five-year Tree Commission terms ending June 2018.

• Authorized a $13 refund to Judicial Correction Service for overpayment of municipal court fines in June.

• Accepted a $9,347 proposal from AllComm Wireless for repairs and upgrades to the Automated Weather Observing System at the Municipal Airport.

• Approved expenses to host Certified Alabama Planning and Zoning Official training provided by the University of North Alabama for up to 20 participants at $564 each. City of Sylacauga has at least 14 participants. Oak Grove and Talladega will also have participants and will reimburse accordingly.

• Approved meal expenses for Police Capt. Kelley Johnson, Lt. Jason McNeill and Lt. Mike Gorman to attend Event Security Planning sponsored by Calhoun County EMA Sept 16-17 in Oxford. There is no registration fee.

• Approved expenses for Councilman Joe Hogan, Human Resources specialist Nora Sherbert and City Clerk Patricia Carden to attend Alabama League of Municipalities Training Session 40 in Birmingham on July 31. Fee is $100 each plus mileage.

• Amended the date for previously approved Rescue Technician: Swiftwater I and II training for Fire Lt. Chris Wallis to July 22-26 from June 3-7.

• Authorized payments totaling $28,061 for accounts payable in June.

• Heard Chamber of Commerce Director Carol Bates announce an event July 18 from 5:30-7 p.m. at the Chamber to introduce 15 new Chamber members.

The next City Council meeting is July 16 at 6 p.m. at City Hall.

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© 2013