Perryville council to not give remaining Merchant’s Row properties

At Perryville’s city council meeting Dec. 3, councilman Chad Blackwell brought a motion to the floor in regards to the two remaining Merchant’s Row properties that currently belong to the city, a carriage house and warehouse that now house The Bargain Barn and Laura Leigh Photography. Blackwell made a motion to gift the properties to Main Street Perryville, a nonprofit organization, so they could remain intact and be maintained since they are historical buildings. At first, there was a tie among council members, then it was decided that since the city had previously discussed selling the properties for city revenue, the city would keep the properties. After that decision, Blackwell made a motion for the city not to sell the properties, which did not get a second.

Blackwell said the buildings are governed by the Kentucky Heritage Council, the State Historic Preservation Office responsible for preserving and protecting historic buildings. He said the city has had concerns about maintaining the buildings since it took possession of them, so in previous months a contract was made with MSP to rent and maintain the buildings, except for the remaining two in question, so Blackwell had wanted to keep the buildings as a unit and also gift the remaining two. He said there have been complaints about how the city has handled the Merchant’s Row properties in the past.

“I made the motion to gift them because I believe it’s important to keep the street as intact as possible,” Blackwell said in an email. “Also MSP is the only local entity to invest in them so it only seems right. Also I worry about the future of the businesses if someone purchases them and moves them out of town.”

During the meeting, Blackwell also presented a quote for how much it would cost to move playground equipment from Danville to Perryville, which had been gifted to Perryville from Boyle County. A local man quoted $15,000 for what he said was a $40,000 job and valued the equipment at $20,000, Blackwell said.

Councilwoman Kelly Gray said she had concerns about the age of the playground equipment, which according to Blackwell is about 15 years old. Gray also said she is in favor of bringing the equipment to the city but wasn’t sure about whether the city was in a stable financial condition to be able to spend the money needed, $15,000, to move and install it.

To this, during the meeting Blackwell responded, “My whole position on this is we were offered this, we accepted it, we even voted on where we were going to place it, and now you all are acting like we don’t have $15,000 to spare … it just seems insane to me that we would pass up an opportunity for our town like this.”

The point came up that Perryville does not have a public playground other than the one at Perryville Elementary School, which Gray said anyone can use. Blackwell said he does not believe the school should not have all the pressure of maintaining a playground and the city should take the equipment gifted to it and utilize it.

Gray responded, “While I’m appreciative of the offer and I do think it would make a great addition to our city and hopefully we will be able to do that in the future, I think there are just a lot of other outstanding issues,” referring to sidewalks that needed to be fixed and other resources that money needed to go toward.

She made a motion to not accept the playground equipment, which received one nay from Blackwell and yes votes from the rest of council.

Also during the meeting, police chief Parker Hatter gave a police report and asked city council to approve him putting out a job opening for a part-time police officer, which was approved unanimously. Hatter said the department is currently short-staffed and cannot cover all the hours required for the week. The new position would cover some of those hours. Especially with the uptick in crime in the area and in Danville and surrounding counties, Hatter said, and especially if he or someone else from the department needed to quarantine during the pandemic, he said a part-time officer would be helpful. Some of the money to pay the salary of the new part-time officer could potentially be reimbursed.

In other business, a $100 Christmas bonus was approved unanimously for city employees, and a motion to give fire chief Anthony Young a $2,000 Christmas bonus was tabled to give the city time to see if the city legally can give him the bonus. Also, it was shared that the equipment to produce better-quality livestreamed meetings and make it so city business could be done remotely if need be was purchased: a camera, microphones, a laptop and an iPad. The city expects the money spent on this equipment to be reimbursed because the purchase is in response to COVID-19 since meetings are livestreamed through the city’s Facebook page in response to the pandemic.