2017-12-06 / Local News

County gives building to city, but it wasn’t easy

By LARRY HILLIARD
Ledger Staff Writer

After some wrangling, negotiations and an occasional pointed public comment, the city finally got its answer Monday to its request regarding obtaining the former county administration building.

After 10 minutes of friendly debate, Cherokee County Council unanimously approved first reading of an ordinance to donate the vacant structure to the city.

The city plans to convert the aging building into the Dr. Bobby Moss Learning Center for the Revolutionary War.

The action came after push back by Gaffney Mayor Henry Jolly and Gaffney City Councilman Bernard Smith over the county’s request for a city-owned strip of land near the courthouse.

Both Jolly and Smith said the city’s request for the vacant administration building should come with no strings attached.

Cherokee County Councilman Quay Little said the county’s request was misinterpreted and was never intended as a counter-offer — only a request for the parcel of land the county would convert into a parking lot.

Cherokee County Administrator Holland Belue said it was up to his council to either bundle the requests or act on them individually.

Little said the city’s anger was misplaced since he fought to give them the land for the Michael Gaffney cabin.

“I fought for six months for the county to give them the land and now for them to attack us…,” Little said.

Despite his rhetoric, Little then made a motion to give the city the building.

While discussing the motion, councilman Charles Mathis suggested council should wait until the city responds to the county’s request for the strip of land.

Little then withdrew his motion.

But that wasn’t the end of the discussion.

Belue said he doubted any deal would move forward until either the city or county council makes the first move by approving a request.

Cherokee County Council Chairman Tim Spencer said he wants to build a “partnership” with the city.

Little then added, “We aren’t playing poker.”

Mike Fowlkes then made the motion to donate the building.

Although he voted for the motion, Mathis couldn’t resist one last jab at the city.

When asked how he voted, Mathis said, “We always get the short end of the stick from the city.”

Jolly said he appreciated the county’s action.

The building has been vacant for nearly five years and county officials have estimated it would cost several hundred thousand dollars to make repairs and upgrades to the building, including replacing the roof, removing mold and installing a new HVAC system.

The building was a former Carnegie Library site and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

City officials have said donating the building would allow the city to move forward in applying for federal grants to restore it.

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