Will Junction pay to play?

Published 4:50 pm Saturday, September 16, 2017

 Mayor says city treated like ‘little backdoor child’ when comes to EDP 

Junction City Council members asked more about the “pay to play” plan that has been introduced by the Danville-Boyle County Economic Development Partnership, after meeting Hal Goode, the vice president of Develop Danville, the Danville-Boyle County Economic Development Partnership. 

“Do we want to discuss that now or do we want to wait until someone says we have to write a check? I have an opinion,” said council member Pete Kendrick. 

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Mayor Jim Douglas pointed out to Goode the city wasn’t mentioned on “Jody’s webpage,” referring to the front page of developdanville.com. “I feel like we’re a little backdoor child when it comes to the EDP,” Douglas said.

A closer look at the website reveals one reference is made to Junction City, in a paragraph near the bottom. The city can also be found under the “other communities” tab.

In comparison, the Main Street programs in the cities of Danville and Perryville get their own references near the top of the front page; Junction City does not have a main street program. There are three other references to Perryville or the Main Street Perryville Program on the front page, and multiple references to Danville or the Main Street Danville.

Kendrick said he didn’t see how the city would get attention, even if they did pay.

“I can’t imagine a scenario of any type of business looking to come to come to Boyle County and there being three or four (properties) to look at and Junction City being touted to the forefront by anyone. It’s a token amount for a token vote, but I just don’t see where Junction City is a priority (for the EDP),” said Kendrick. “I don’t think we would ever get the nod.” 

Council member Kenny Baldwin agreed and said, “We’ve never been at the front.” He said they realize the city has more residential areas than industrial, but that there are places where restaurants could be located along U.S. 127. Baldwin pointed to the piece of property that Goode mentioned to the council, one north of Junction, near Junction City Baptist Church at 3860 U.S. 127, that is going to be listed online and could draw a prospective business.

“We’ve never got the feeling that we’ve been as an equal, or anyone’s choice,” Baldwin said.

Goode said he appreciated their honesty and that he understood. Jody Lassiter, director of the Economic Development Partnership, was not available Thursday but is expected to be at the next meeting.

“It takes all of us working together,” Goode said. “It’s going to take us all, Perryville, Junction City, Danville. It does.”

Douglas also filled in the council members on the progress for a new municipal building, which remains to be minimal.

“We’re beating our heads against the wall,” he said, referring to attempts to get grants. “I’m not sure we can get help.”

Junction City Hall is home to city offices, council chambers and the fire department. It was first built in 1939, according to a plaque on the building. Over the years, it was also home to the post office and the city jail.

The Junction City Police Department is located in the building next door, along with Sweets by Cindy; the building is owned by the city, as well as the lot next door and the community center nearby. All have had issues with leaking and cracks, according to archives of The Advocate-Messenger; leaks have forced the council out of their chambers in the past.

The council has discussed plans to build a new municipal building, to include the fire and police departments, an emergency shelter, community center and city offices. The building would be located on land between the existing community center and the building where the police department is located.

In 2015, the council reviewed an architect’s renderings for a 7,672 square-foot building that would serve as a fire station and community center, costing an estimated $1.2 million, and a 2,872 square-foot building that would serve as a police station and city hall, costing an estimated $762,670. The city could have potentially qualified for grants, but would still have been paying a large portion. They never followed through on those plans.

Since then, Douglas has been working on locating grants. “A project like this will take quite a while to do. We’re feasibly looking at a year.” He said they might have to complete the building in phases. 

Baldwin said once they started working on the building, they might be able to qualify for other grants, maybe from FEMA or other agencies.

“It would be easier if we were head over heels in debt. It doesn’t make sense, but it’s a fact,” Douglas said. He told the council he would continue trying to find resources for the building. There are no plans to start it at the moment, and no timeline for when it would be completed. During the 2014 election, Douglas said he hoped to see a building completed, or at least started, before his tenure ends.

The council also:

• had second reading of the tax rate established in the August meeting. The rate will remain at 12.5 cents per $100, the same as last year. “At some point, we’re going to have to (raise the rates). It’s been 10 years, probably, since we’ve had a tax increase. Someday, it will come,” said Douglas.

• heard from Rebecca Hafley, director of the Danville 911 Center. “I’m just here to say, our center is not closing,” she said. “We will still be open, will still be provided service and it will be up to you to decide.” The agencies that choose to stay with the Danville center will be asked to sign a service agreement contract, drafted by the two cities’ lawyers.