Lot donation still being mulled by board 7/22/2014

Engineer Byron Houston prepared this survey of property behind row of commercial buildings on the Square. The lot was donated to the city, then declined and has been under discussion since November.

Lot donation still being mulled by board

By John Howell

A survey map that identified the boundaries of a small lot on Lomax Street behind the old Shackeroff’s building on the Public Square prompted further conversation during the recent meeting of Batesville’s mayor and aldermen about whether the city needs to gain its ownership.

The lot has been under discussion since owner Patricia Traylor deeded it to the city last November. In December, the city, citing potential liabilities that could accrue with ownership and the city’s existing right to maintain the lot due to an easement for a gas line believed to run underneath it, deeded it back to Traylor.

At the June 3 meeting of Batesville’s mayor and aldermen, a Lomax Street homeowner asked city officials to reconsider the offer, accept donation of the lot and to maintain and develop the property for parking for nearby business.

At the July 1 meeting, Alderman Stan Harrison also asked fellow aldermen to reconsider their decision to deed the lot back to its owner and to seek city ownership. City engineer Blake Mendrop was asked to provide a survey.

Engineer Byron Houston presented the survey at the July 15 board meeting, revealing that the city owns an 11-foot-wide alley behind the adjacent row of buildings that face the Square. The lot is bound by the alley on its east side with frontage on Lomax Street 65 feet wide. The lot extends about 143 feet south before it doglegs into a 30-foot-wide  finger that extends to Gowdy Street.

During the July 15 meeting, Alderman Eddie Nabors acknowledged the ongoing plan for Square renovation and proposals for development of the space created at the corner of Eureka Street with the purchase and demolition of on old service station.

“I think it’s very important that we straighten that out,” said Alderman Bill Dugger, referring to the Eureka Street entrance to the Square. Dugger has repeatedly reminded his fellow elected officials that the reasoning behind the city’s decision to purchase the service station was to improve traffic flow into the Square from Eureka Street.

“Any property that you receive is going to have to have an environmental survey,” Nabors said. Nabors has consistently cautioned the mayor and aldermen to investigate the liability that the city might assume if it accepts the property.

“Should we choose to do parking as opposed to a park where the old gas station was, then I don’t know that we would need any additional parking space on the Square, but if we do a park there, I’m not opposed to re-looking at it (accepting the lot),” Nabors said.

“I think its going to be hard to make a parking lot out of that old gas station; I think it’s going to be hard to back out right there into the street,” said Alderman Teddy Morrow. “I’d love some more parking,” he added. 

“That really, really concerns me,” Dugger said. “That we keep backing up and talking about parking there. I thought we were talking about straightening the street.”

“I think we need to stick with our plan,” Alderman Ted Stewart said, referring to modifying the Eureka traffic entrance to the Square 

“I think we owe you another drawing … to see what that straightening would look like,” Engineer Mendrop said, referring to further modifying proposals presented at a June 3 work session showing several options to improve traffic flow in the Square.

“Look at it,” Mayor Jerry Autrey said. “(For) two weeks, whenever we have the next meeting; I don’t think we need to make a decision today.”

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