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Joint City, County and IDB work session/meeting 17 Sept 2018.
 
Called to order at 5:30 PM by Commission Chairman Andrews.  The floor was immediately opened for discussion about/over the building as the Gerber Building.
 
Susan Coleman, City of Evergreen Economic Director spoke first.  She told the attendees that she had been working toward getting the building ready for and that, although some work was still needed, it was not that bad.
 
Andrews responded that it would be advantageous to start a punch list of things that need to be done.  He noted there had been some water leaks in the building, some windows are cracked or broken, and water damage from leakage is noted in some of the rooms and offices spaces.
 
Mayor Wolff joined Andrews in chiming on the problems of the building.
 
It was also noted there are some lighting problems along with ceiling tiles needing replacement combined with some molded paneling.
 
any cleanup/restoration will include painting.  Landscaping has been in work and Andrews suggested leaving the building opened as much as possible for “airing” out.   Andrews mentioned that the county did have trustees available to do some of
 
A question was asked about any funds available from the IDB.  Todd Watson, current Chairman of the IDB responded that at this time he is unsure what monetary help may be available from the IDB.
 
Mayor Wolff stated “to the best of his knowledge,” this was the largest and only building available between Mobile and Birmingham and is an asset that should be prepared and pushed.  He emphasized it was mandatory the building be put in a ready status in hopes of attracting interest in it becoming a business location.
 
Davis from the city asked about a cost to repair estimate.  It was noted at this time there are no estimates available, one of the reasons for this joint meeting was to establish who would do what toward readiness.
 
Commissioner Leonard Millender asked who owns the building?  It was answered that the building is the property of the Evergreen IDB.   Commissioner Millender was concerned about who will do what.  What will the city do toward getting this place ready as well as what the IDB and commission will   The county HAS made a commitment to move forward with getting the building prepared for
 
Mayor Wolff stated he would take getting the building ready by having contractors provide cost estimates.  In my opinion, the IDB balked a touch and was unwilling to commit to anything until they could have a meeting of their own.
 
Caylor, speaking on his behalf, he was prepared and ready to support a move forward on getting the building ready.
 
Commissioner Andrews suggested a committee be appointed to oversee these efforts.  There was no action taken on this suggestion.
 
Probate Steve Fleming wanted to get to Evergreen’s Economic Director, Susan Coleman, for the outstanding work and effort she has put forth.
 
IDB Chairman Watson suggested the IDB wait until estimates come in before holding an IDB meeting.
 
Commissioner Millender asked what might be done as in-kind services?  He also noted that any and all building improvement work be done by the contractor that will be awarded the job rather than to depend on trustees, etc. to get the work done.
 
I addressed the fact that there were at least two (2) outstanding lawsuits involving that building and the company that was originally scheduled to move into it.  One lawsuit is by Mr. Andy Skipper for unpaid work he did to the site a few years back.  The other is a Federal Lawsuit filed by what was the Evergreen Wood Product group.  Mr. lawsuit has just been continued until next year and the Federal Lawsuit is still in court in Mobile.
 
I asked if either of these lawsuits could have any impact on the building.  IDB Attorney Nix quickly responded that there could not be any impact.  City Attorney Hartley was not so fast to say that there would be no impact and County Attorney Bishop did not respond.
 
An opportunity for further questions was offered and, when there were none, the meeting was adjourned at 5:45 PM.
 
 
Personal thoughts:
With all the new economic developers gathered around our fair city and expressing their desires to have the old Gerber Building refurbished, the entities of the City, IDB County Commission being called upon to work together and share expenses I am reminded of another time not so long ago.
In 2013 then Economic Director Bobby Skipper, who is no longer with the city, came before the commission body and pitched a bill of sale on the county supporting the Evergreen IDB in overhauling the old Gerber Building to the tune of $175,000.00.  This $175,000.00 received absolute assurances by both Bobby Skipper and IDB Chairman Al Etheridge that it would be repaid to the county not later than 2014. 
 
With the county put up the $175,000.00.  I questioned the county commission at the 13 January 2014 meeting about this payback.  I was assured by then Chairman Andrews and Former Commissioner Cook that it was still an outstanding loan and would be repaid.  In the event anyone needs to hear this I hold a recording of that meeting.
 
Today is 18 September 2018, ask how much of that $175,000.00 has been repaid.  The answer is none.  Although both Jim Allen, Monthly View, and I have asked on several occasions what was going to be done about this $175,000.00.  I do believe the last response received came from Anthony Bishop, County Attorney.  His response was, “it was gone and would not be coming back,” or at least something to that effect.
 
Are we buying another pig in the poke or is this for real.  I sincerely hope the county does not get stung again.
 
Being the eternal optimist I have high hopes everything will good for our citizens, God knows they need a break.

 


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