The city could spend about $196,000 on the properties that would be acquired through eminent domain. About $54,000 has been offered on 335 Allgood Road, a home that is occupied, and another $142,000 was offered for 329 Allgood Road, a small grocery store.
Both property owners say they want more than what is being offered. City Council took no action on the condemnations Thursday night during a called meeting.
Another property has caught the eye of the city. An offer of $91,000 was made on land at the intersection of Allgood Road and North Marietta Parkway, owned by the Marietta Redevelopment Corp.
But it wouldn’t be acquired through condemnation and would simply be purchased. The MRC would apply the $91,000 from the sale to a $4 million loan the MRC owes Bank of North Georgia, a loan the city has agreed to back.
Elizabeth Porter is the largest project funded under the $25 million parks bond passed by voters in 2009 with a budget of $3.75 million. About $1.2 million of that is set aside to purchase adjacent properties. About $800,000 has already been spent on properties that include a tire repair shop, liquor store and a rental home.
The recreation center, which was once an all-black hospital, will be razed and rebuilt. Plans for the future center haven’t been finalized, but could include a bigger building and splash pad.
Mayor Steve Tumlin called the condemnation process a “nightmare,” particularly since the home is occupied.
“Condemnation is such a nightmare for politicians,” Tumlin said.
Residents want more money
The city’s offer of $54,000 on the home at 335 Allgood isn’t good enough, said James Gober, who attended Thursday’s meeting on behalf of his cousin Peggy Price, who owns and lives in the home. He says that offer is much too low and is asking for $80,000, and he’s willing to fight for it in court.
If the condemnation were met with a legal challenge, a jury would be charged with setting the value of the home.
Gober said the city offered Price, who he said is 60-something years old, a home that is on the same street, but it’s in poor condition. She hasn’t been able to step foot inside, he said, because of a mold problem.
“Give the lady $80,000 and let her find her own house,” Gober said.
Ray Summerour owns the grocery store at 329 Allgood and also wants to see more cash before he’s willing to part with his business.
The city offered $142,000 for the property, but he wants about $300,000.
“I don’t think the city at this particular point in time is willing to give us what we need,” Summerour said.
But he fears he can’t afford to mount a legal challenge.
“They come up with these ridiculous prices and I don’t understand it,” Summerour said.
It’s about more than just the money, he argued, since his family has been in the city of Marietta for generations. He doesn’t think he can find another property in the city limits to place his business.
“When I leave there it’s more than just selling a business, I’m losing a piece of me,” Summerour said.
Still, Tumlin said before Thursday’s meeting the council is doing what it can to make the process smooth and relatively pain free.
“They won’t be on the street on Christmas day,” Tumlin said.
New council gets to decide
Though Councilman Anthony Coleman, who represents the area, doesn’t approve of the way the property is being acquired, he said there’s a large need for high quality recreation centers in Marietta.
“I think it’s a great addition to the city of Marietta,” Coleman said. “It’s what we envisioned, to build a Class A facility for the citizens of Marietta.”
He wants to find a “comparable solution” for both property owners.
City Attorney Doug Haynie said it’s been a long process, and he’s been talking with residents and business owners along Allgood for at least nine months.
The city isn’t just stepping in and kicking out property owners, he said, and its reasoning follows the state law that governs condemnations and eminent domain.
“You have to have a plan and a reason … it cannot be for redevelopment. This is not for redevelopment. They want to expand Elizabeth Porter,” Haynie said.
Although Tumlin said Wednesday the City Council had chosen to have a special meeting to start the condemnation process and avoid passing the buck to the new council that will take office next month, no action was taken Thursday.
Outgoing Councilman Johnny Sinclair said it’s an issue the next group of elected officials will have to decide.
“I think we just realized that this is something the next City Council is going to have to take on,” Sinclair said.