DECATUR, Ala. (WHNT) — There was some disagreement among city councilmembers at Monday’s city council meeting, regarding Resolution 22-058.
The resolution is to authorize Mayor Tab Bowling to begin “negotiations for a property sales contract with Holland Holdings LP to acquire additional property for ballfields to replace the Aquadome Ballfields.”
The resolution specifies a cost of $37,000 per acre. The proposed site on Modaus Road, is 34.2 acres.
When the Resolution came up, District 1 Councilmember Billy Jackson, spoke up about his concerns.
“Motion by Mr. McMasters, second by Mr. Pike. Any discussion?” asked Council President Jacob Ladner.
“Yeah, I have a couple of things,” said Councilmember Billy Jackson. “I think I’ve made it pretty clear that I won’t support this.”
Councilmember Jackson brought up several of his concerns, including that he doesn’t think the City has looked at enough locations.
“First and foremost, I think that we’ve looked at one site,” Jackson said.
Mayor Tab Bowling chimed in saying, “that’s wrong.”
“What else did we look at?” Jackson responded.
“We looked at sites on Spring and Central,” Bowling said.
Councilman Jackson went on to say, “when you presented, you already had blueprints of the ballfields and everything laid out, before we even decided that that was a site that we were going to look at.”
Mayor Bowling countered, “Yes, sir. I asked Mr. Lake if he would kind of put together… so we could talk with the property owner.”
Jackson replied, “So from the public’s perspective, and from my perspective because I wasn’t in on this, that we looked at one site, and that’s concerning to a lot of people.”
Mayor Bowling interjected, “that’s not accurate.”
Jackson countered with, “Well that’s not what was presented.”
News 19 spoke with Mayor Tab Bowling following the City Council meeting on Monday.
“Mr. Jackson questioned whether we had looked at other properties, we had.” Bowling stated. “The other properties were not available.”
News 19 also spoke with Councilmember Jackson after the meeting. Mr. Jackson didn’t want to go on camera, but stood by his comments made during the meeting. He said the site proposed on Modaus Road was not centralized for all residents of Decatur to easily access it.
In the meeting, Mr. Jackson also raised concerns about the already “high” levels of traffic on Modaus Road, saying he was concerned about adding a large facility on the road, and worsening the traffic.
Another concern raised by Jackson was the lack of an appraisal on the site proposed by Mayor Bowling.
He said, “Have we had an appraisal on this, Herman?”
City Attorney Herman Marks, said, “No, sir.”
“So we’re basically agreeing on a price, when we haven’t even had an appraisal to know the value of the property,” Jackson stated.
Bowling fired back, “I can tell you that there is property across the street that is going for more than this.”
Jackson responded, “Okay, but this property in particular, we don’t know the appraisal?”
Bowling said, “Mr. Jackson, whenever they do appraisals they do those based on comparison.”
Jackson said, “I know they do comps, but specifically, this property, we don’t have an appraised value.”
Bowling said, “No, sir.”
In the post-meeting interview with News 19, Mayor Bowling said, “the price is $37,000 an acre.” The site on Modaus road is 34.2 acres. That total price would be $1,265,400. Bowling said they felt like it was a good price.
In the end, Resolution 20-058 passed 4 to 1. Councilmember Jackson was the only member who voted against it.
Council President Jacob Ladner clarified, that even with the Council giving the mayor the approval to come up with a sales agreement, a final offer cannot be made “until the council approves it.”
BE IT RESOLVED by the City Council of the City of Decatur, Alabama that the
Mayor is authorized on behalf of the City to begin negotiations for a property sales
contract with Holland Holdings LP to acquire additional property for ballfields to replace
the Aquadome ballfields (potential site is in vicinity of Modaus Road and Austin High
School) at a cost of $37,000 per acre for approximately 34.2 acres;
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Mayor will provide the proposed Sales
Contract to the City Council for review and approval.
ADOPTED this 21th day of March 2022