The county government will take ownership of the Jim Blair Recreation Center if the city council gives final approval to a mediation plan.
Two magistrates and County Judge Executive Gale Cowan met with two city council members, Mayor Pam Hoots, city attorney Derrick Helm, county attorney Jennifer Hutchison Corbin and a mediator on Tuesday to work out a plan for the park. The city and county have joint ownership but have been unable to agree on its operation.
At Tuesday’s fiscal court meeting, Hutchison Corbin said the group agreed to convey the property to the county with stipulation that the property be used for the next 50 years for a recreational facility for community use.
The county will assume the current debt of $15,700 and will waive any expenses owed by the city. The agreement also stipulates that the county will upgrade softball fields and basketball courts within one year and will install updated playground equipment within three years.
Chris Reeder and Daryl Flatt, members of the county’s budget committee, took part in the mediation and both said they thought the county did well in the negotiations.
Judge Cowan said this is the only park the county owns and the only thing they offer youth.
“I’m going to ask the fiscal court to back me, and that we get to work out there and get it up to the standards it needs to be for our community,” Cowan said.
The fiscal court approved the recommendation unanimously. The county already commits $30,000 a year to the park and recently changed from employing a part-time person to using an existing full-time employee to cover needs at the park.
Also during Tuesday’s court meeting, magistrates approved second reading to a tight budget for 2020-21 and gave approval to borrow up to $100,000 from the road fund should it become necessary.
Any money taken from the road fund must be returned by the end of the fiscal year. Judge Cowan said following the meeting that the funds would be borrowed if necessary until tax collections begin in October when the funds would be returned.
The county has struggled to stay within budget during the pandemic but has made it through the end of one fiscal year.
“If we don’t need it, we are not spending it,” Reeder said during an interview with him and Judge Cowan following the meeting.
Adair is one of few counties in the commonwealth that do not have either an occupational tax or an insurance premium tax.
“We’ve worked pretty hard, and it was way before me, but it’s something to say that we don’t have an occupational tax,” Reeder said.
When asked if she felt the county is providing all the needed services under the tight budget, Cowan said yes.
“There are things we would like to do,” she added.
Also during Tuesday’s meeting, the court approved first reading to add a 35 mph speed limit on Junior Loy Road and a 25 mph limit on Providence Road. Second reading was approved to limit Howard Dulin Road to 25 mph and to change the name of Beech Tree Lane to Dillingham Road. Several private roads were also named.
The fiscal court meeting was the first to be held open to the public since closures caused by COVID-19. All magistrates were present for the meeting.
By Sharon Burton