Jasper Mayor David O'Mary said a title problem that threatened to block a city demolition of the Jasper-based boys dorm at Bevill State Community College has been resolved - and the city is also now looking at a potential lease of the campus' old cafeteria building.
The issues was brought up by Mayor David O'Mary Friday at a work session of the Jasper City Council, noting that further research is ongoing on both deals. No final decisions have been made.
O'Mary said with further research into the matter, officials discovered title issues "that just look like they might be insurmountable because of money that folks wanted, and whatever."
However, O'Mary said he spoke to Bevill State President Joel Hagood earlier in the week, "and I think the (state) two-year college system is in the process of making that title issue go away. With that the case, they could give it to us unencumbered. Of course, we would want to have some title work done."
The city would get all the property from the south end of Gamble Park to the nursing school. O'Mary said while the building and property "is free, it's not free" due to the demolition.
The mayor told the council in January that city officials are looking into the possibility of receiving the aging men's dorms, known as Sam R. Murphy Hall, and its property from Bevill State Community College - although the building is not in good shape and one condition may be for the city to tear it down. Preliminary cost estimates by the city put the cost of demolition possibly at $100,000.
The city would receive the men's dorm and the property out front, with the condition that the building is torn down, as it is not in good condition to be used, even for residences. O'Mary said in January the foundation has weakened and Bevill State officials feels it cannot be salvaged.
At Friday's meeting, O'Mary said City Engineer Joe Matthews is doing further research on costs for demolition of the building by a reputable contractor. "It could be such an amount that it wouldn't be appealing. I don't know," O'Mary said. "But what I would say to you is that as soon as I have that information, I will bring it back to you for consideration."
He said it is pure speculation as a next step, but if the cost is too high, he didn't know if the two-year college system would share some of the costs.
"If we don't do it, it is still going to be there as an ugly, dilapidated building," O'Mary said, adding Hagood has been kind to consider the city in obtaining the property.
Lease of old cafeteria building discussed
He said another possibility being discussed "in the early stages" is for the Francis Israel building on the campus, known for housing the old cafeteria, to be leased to the city long term. O'Mary said that could possibly be advantageous to the city, to be used for "administrative purposes." He did not elaborate on what that would mean.
The building is currently unoccupied and used for a storage building, he said. Hagood will talk with state two-year college officials this week about the future of that structure.
O'Mary said as he finds out more about that possibility, he would bring that back to the council for consideration.