By Malcolm Butler
During Tuesday night’s Lincoln Parish Police Jury meeting, one order of new business was the discussion of the space available in the Complex Two building which was vacated by Aaron’s.
The building located across from First Baptist Church in between Vienna Street and Trenton Street is more than 50 years old and currently houses Dollar General, Hinton Driving Academy and the Department of Motor Vehicles.
Aaron’s was paying $44,000 per year for its space, but the condition of the building continues to deteriorate due to age.
Lincoln Parish Police Jury Administrator Doug Postel posed the question to the jury about their desires for the vacant space.
“My recommendation is to not tie up that space with long-term on a lease as we tried to do with other spaces in the building as I don’t believe we have intentions to leave that building there for a long period of time,” said Postel. “We are pouring quite a bit of money into maintenance and repairs now.
“Of the six air units on the roof of the building, four of those are many years past their life span. We have to consider if we are going to put money into replacing those at some point or when they die are they just done. If we put somebody in there then we are obligated to maintain it.”
Postel recommended possibly leasing it on a month-by-month basis.
“I don’t think six months is long enough,” said juror Theresa Wyatt. “Certainly, no businesses would want to go through the expense of moving and possibly have to move in six months. We may want to consider the length since we have nothing ready today or a shovel ready project for that space.
“I think we have some projects on the table that we need to see clear before we make any type of decision about something else. We need to get some of these projects off the table.”
Postel informed the jurors that the current leases in the building include Dollar General (approximately 2 years remaining), Hinton Driving Academy (approximately 8 months remaining) and then the DMV. However, a buy-out clause exists within the Dollar General lease.
“I think we should take intentional steps to get out of the building,” said juror Logan Hunt. “I think that is the most valuable piece of property in town. I would demolish (the building). I would build a nice park right there.
“Use our equipment to take that parking lot out and create a grand entrance coming into the city from the south where you can see the courthouse with a big huge green space right there. When you get ready for the Peach Festival instead of piling up all of those vendors on the asphalt put them in the park.”
“My suggestion is to leave the building empty,” said juror Joe Henderson. “Let the leases run out so we can get out of it. We have paid off all our debt with it. If you keep putting (businesses) in it, it will never become empty.”
Despite having two interested parties that have reached out about possibly renting the space vacated by Aaron’s, Postel believes the time has come to look past the current structure.
“We don’t need to be in the business of rental space,” said Postel. “We don’t need to compete against private businesses who are in that space. That’s not something we should do if we can avoid it. The (Policy Jury) bought the building for the property. In order to pay for the property, we rented the space. It’s now paid off.”
Lincoln Parish Policy Jury President Richard Durrett deferred the project to the Public Property Committee to gather details to discuss again at next month’s meeting.
In other business, the Solid Waste Committee discussed report for relocating the scale house entrance into the parish landfill.
The current location on the northeast corner of the property along Arkansas Road has become outdated with the scale collapsing about four months ago. A temporary scale has been utilized, but a new one will need to be implemented.
“We talked about keeping it in the same approximate location, but core samples showed that the space has trash buried about eight feet under it,” said Postel. “Thus, that ground is not stable. Although we don’t bury trash anymore, they did years ago. We need to find a location that is more stable.”
Postel said moving it to the southwest corner will not only provide stability, but it will also solve another concern.
“Sometimes in the mornings we have city trucks that are lined up down Arkansas Road waiting to enter, and this causes a traffic hazard” said Postel. “The new location will allow us to get those trucks off the road, thus eliminating any potential road safety issues. It’s just a good time to redo the entire thing.”
The current entrance would then become a utility entrance for the parish workers only.
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