Bank withdraws proposal to purchase town-owned
Grantsville property, locals call it "the hole"
By Bob Weaver
An effort by Calhoun Banks to construct a new banking facility on Grantsville's old town hall and parking lot property at the junction of State Rt. 5-16 has been abandoned, according to bank CEO Jim Bennett.
The bank had been seeking the property for about two years.
"We thanked them (town) for their interest, and decided not to pursue the property ... although it was the most logical site from our study," Bennett said.
It was at least the third time that the property, known locally as "the hole," has been passed-over for development.
The town hall complex was demolished after it was declared unsafe for use in 2006.
The bank had done an extensive feasibility study on the property, including core drilling, and examining a number of problems that hovers over the site.
Bennett said the Grantsville banking services are in multiple locations, and needs to be built for convenient customer service with parking. He said an acre of ground is needed.
"We want to be in Grantsville, and that's why we're desperately trying to find a piece of ground to accommodate our needs," Bennett told Mayor Gary Knight and Grantsville's council members.
Mayor Knight, according to a Calhoun Chronicle report, suggested leasing the property to the bank. "The council felt there were many issues left to discuss and tabled the issue ... to make an informed decision," the report said.
The 110 year old banking institution has 47 employees, 23 at the main branch in Grantsville, in addition to part-time help.
A few years ago, following the condemnation of the old town hall, a battle followed after local businessman Steve Satterfield attempted to get the property for a convenience store.
Grantsville businessman James Morris engaged Satterfield over his obtaining the property, including court action, after which Satterfield abandoned his project.
Satterfield had proposed building a new town hall on Main Street property he owned in a trade deal for the town real estate.
Morris' attorney called it a "pig in a poke" deal, although Morris had attempted his own trade, two properties on Court Street on the flood plain for the town hall.
The Morris business interests donated equipment and labor for the demolition of the old town hall property, and was active in trying to obtain funding for a new town hall.
The Town of Grantsville had a vision to build a new town hall on the site for about $250,000 dollars, having architectural plans drawn with a committee formed to raise funds for the new structure.
Funds could not be raised, and the Calhoun Commission gave space for town offices in the jail annex.
CCCOAs Legacy Project recently had a feasibility study open with the town, but dropped the study a few months ago, stating they did not want the liability and risk that this type of collaboration could carry, according to Asst. Director Brenda McBride.
The Legacy Project was a community effort to construct a multi-purpose indoor swimming pool, exercise, recreational and community center.
The town property does present problems for a buyer, sources indicate it must be sold to the highest bidder. Additionally there are legal issues over state right-of-ways and the fact that a creek runs under the site through a duct.
Also, an earlier town council passed a motion that said the property could not be sold without a vote of the town citizens.
"We'll move forward to providing the best banking services we can for the community," Bennett concluded.
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