City authorizes joint property counter-scenarios

During last night’s meeting of the Henderson City Council, Land Planning and Development Committee chair Bobby Gupton introduced two scenarios for the reallocation of real property owned jointly by the City of Henderson and the County of Vance.

The two government entities are contending over the former H. Leslie Perry Memorial Library on Rose Avenue and the Henderson-Vance Armory on Dabney Drive.

It is widely understood that the county wishes to convert the old library for office space. The city, on the other hand, committed by resolution earlier in the year to preserve the Armory if at all possible.

Gupton has been a strong proponent of saving the Armory. He stated last night that he believes that there is especially strong support for saving the aging building in West Henderson, his constituency.

On August 14, the Vance County Board of Commissioners resolved to propose three scenarios to the city council regarding the disposition of the two properties. The first scenario called for the outright sale of the two properties and a split of the proceeds. The second called for the county assuming ownership of the library and the city assuming ownership of the Armory, with the city paying the county the difference in value. The third involved the city purchasing the county’s half of the Armory and the county purchasing the city’s half of the library.

The document containing the three scenarios may be reviewed here.

Gupton’s committee proposed in a fourth scenario that the library be sold at an agreed-upon price (rather than appraised value) and the funds be used to fix the Armory. The scenario goes on to suggest various uses for the repaired structure, such as a Boys and Girls Club, a museum for veterans of past wars, and/or a rental for various community events.

The fifth scenario suggested by the Land Planning and Development Committee is that the county assume full ownership of the Armory and owe the city 50% of the agreed-upon selling price. The county could then dispose of the property as it sees fit.

Gupton noted the disparity between tax values and the current appraisals. During the meeting, it was revealed that the old library has a tax value nearly twice that of its appraised value of approximately $200,000. The Armory has a tax value of $20,000, while the land upon which it sits has a tax value of $230,000.

Gupton told the council that tax collector Sam Jones had informed him that the value assigned to the Armory and its property was “arbitrary”.

The latest appraisal of the Armory by Frazco Realty was $1.1 million. The county chose the appraisers in the case of both the Armory and the old library.

The Land Planning Committtee’s recommendations may be reviewed here.

During the meeting, Henderson Mayor Clem Seifert stated that the county is interested in resolving the matter. He said that the scenarios are a starting point for negotiation. He asked if scenarios four and five were in addition to, or a rejection of, the three scenarios presented by the county.

Seifert said that rejected scenarios should be “taken off the plate”.

Gupton commented that he did not want to get the county completely out of restoring the Armory.

The council also agreed that the properties should be re-appraised, with the city selecting a different appraiser for the new assessments of the properties.

It was agreed that Acting City Manager Mark Warren would transmit the new scenarios to County Manager Jerry Ayscue, but that it would be made clear that they are negotiating points, not an offer of the city council. When put to a vote, there was no opposition to that course of action.