|The longtime issue over the disposition of the former Grantsville town hall property, known locally as "the pit," continues to be a contentious issue, according to the minutes of a recent town council meeting.|
During the public meeting, former mayor Gary Knight asked, "Why does this property need to be disposed of?" citing the elimination of a parking area and stating that "bringing in new business would benefit the town, not relocating old business," referring to a proposal by Calhoun Banks to acquire the property and build a new multi-purpose facility.
Former councilman Gaylen Duskey reminded the council how valuable the property is, saying that during his tenure a motion was passed that called for a citizen vote to dispense of the property unless it was used for a new town hall.
The property has long been the object of deals which have become mired in contentious disputes, legal actions, injunctions, building a new town hall or lack of decision, including a decision by the town during Knight's administration in 2010 against the acquisition of the property by Calhoun Banks.
Mayor Curtis Garretson called a January 3rd meeting to discuss the issue with council and the public, a discussion for disposition such as "auctioning, selling, trading, or status quo."
"If the council decides to move forward with getting rid of the property, necessary steps will be taken to ensure that the transaction is done properly," Garretson said.
The council instructed the mayor to obtain a previous survey of the property, or follow a plan to establish the value of the property.
Knight blamed council members for problems not disposing of the property. "If they had the guts, the smarts, the sense, they could have made the move then," he said.
Knight said some council members turned down grants to improve the property.
"If you want to talk about something that looks like an inside job...to place the bank over there...if you want to talk about conspiracy and misuse of office and inside jobs..." Knight said, "I can assure you, if things don't fall out like they should, there will be another injunction."
The former mayor, according to the recorded minutes, became argumentative with councilwoman Loretta Stevens, saying, "Just like you [Stevens] have accused me of all you need to. You owe me an apology..."
Mayor Garretson then called for order to discuss the issue, after which Knight stated to Garretson, "I know about where you work, keep her (Loretta Stevens) mouth shut, put a muzzle on her."
At that point, according to the minutes, Police Chief Andy Walker told Knight, "Don't Threaten," after which Knight responded by saying he was not threatening.
Knight then questioned what role the police chief had in the meeting, saying "Since when did that become his responsibility?"
Councilwoman Dorothy McCauley responded, "The same way you had Jeff (former police chief) to keep order."
Knight responded, "I don't think so," to which several council members stated he did.
Knight then discussed issues related to parking meters in the town, related to the calibration of meters, saying collection of meter money is not legal.
Mayor Garretson said the meeting was losing focus, and needed to return to the agenda.
Garretson says he will be collecting information which could lead to an appraisal of the property and that things will be done properly.
See related story MAYOR GARRETSON EXPLORING DISPOSITION OF OLD TOWN PROPERTY - "The Pit" Has Been Contentious Issue, Public Meeting Tuesday