Frankford looks to lease town hall building to non-profit

The Town of Frankford is looking for more ways to use a piece of property adjacent to the town park that it recently purchased.

The parcel was purchased primarily to provide overflow parking for those going to the park; however, Councilman Marty Presley said at the town council’s April 3 meeting that there would be space leftover on the nearly 2-acre property.

“I’d like to throw it out to the community, to see what the community would like to see go into that land,” said Presley.

He noted that crush-and-run gravel could be added for additional parking, which could also be used for a farmers’ market.

“It’s wide open for what the community wants to put there. I was thinking that maybe we could move the soccer field over there. Currently, we’ve got the soccer field and just one net in the middle of the park proper, which, by August, if you’re there, the grass is all gone.”

Presley said a horseshoe pit or other games, with picnic tables, could be on the open land.

“Eventually, I think it would make sense to move the basketball court over there.”

Council President Joanne Bacon said she liked the idea but was concerned, as the area was not fenced-in.

“I think it’s a good idea, but it concerns me with them running from that one to the other one, and there are little kids out there.”

Presley said those who have ideas for the space should contact Town Clerk Cheryl Lynch.

“There’s a lot of land out there. There’s a lot of things we could do with it, and fairly cheaply.”

Also on April 3, Bacon said the council had held an executive session on March 27 to discuss options related to the old police department and town hall properties, now that both functions have been consolidated in the former J.P. Court building. At that meeting, the council had voted to rent town hall and sell the police department building.

Further, it was announced that the council had voted to lease the town hall building to Southeast Rural Community Assistance Project Inc. (SERCAP) for $600 per month. (SERCAP is a private nonprofit 501(c)(3) multi-state regional training and technical assistance center and a statewide community action agency with a mission to promote the development of affordable water and wastewater facilities, activities and resources to improve the quality of life for low-income rural residents.)

Russell Davenport, who owns property in the town and who had spoken to the council about the property at its March meeting, said he was still interested in using the town hall for a small business that would sell ice cream and chocolate treats.

“I think it’s something good for this town,” he said.

Davenport said he had looked at buying the old police department building, and his contractor had told him, “You don’t want this,” due to the cost of renovations that would be needed for the use.

“I don’t really want to do it in anybody else’s town, because it doesn’t benefit this town. That’s our whole problem. We can’t spend a dime in this town except on our taxes and our water bill. Our kids have nowhere to go… The adults don’t. In the summertime, it’d be nice to just take a walk.”

Bacon said the last time she had been in communication with Davenport, he had said town hall was too small for his venture. Davenport said it was, but that he had wanted to make it work after seeing how much it would cost to renovate the old police department.

Councilman Greg Welch said the council wants to preserve the old town hall, which is why they do not want to sell the building.

“What we mainly want to do is preserve the building. It’s been in Town [ownership] since 1908. It’s a real pretty building that’s in good shape. It just needs some work. But if we sell it, we have no say in how it’s there.”

Davenport said he would put it in the sale contract that they wouldn’t do anything to the building.

“We want to keep it in Town [ownership] for the benefit of the entire town,” said Presley. “Regardless of what you put in some sort of contract, it can always be overruled in a court of law.”

Presley said the Town hopes to donate it to Envision Frankford one day, or it could eventually go to the Frankford fire department.

“We’ve got to have something to liven this town up. Somebody’s got to start somewhere,” said Davenport. “I just want to try to put something in Frankford. If not, I’m done. I’m not going to spend a dime in this damn town. I’m giving you the opportunity, that’s all. If you don’t want to take it, that’s fine. It won’t hurt my feelings, because I’ll go somewhere else and do it.”

Frankford Volunteer Fire Company President Robbie Murray said the fire company did not have any objection to Davenport’s proposal for a sweets shop; however, he said he had not been informed that SERCAP would possibly lease the building and use the fire company’s adjacent parking lot.

Davenport added that he had sent Councilwoman Pam Davis a text message prior to the council voting on leasing the building to SERCAP, stating that he was interested in using it.

“It’s problematic to me,” said Bacon, noting that, although the Town had not yet signed a lease agreement, it had already made a verbal agreement to lease the building to SERCAP.

She added that the council would discuss the situation and get back to Davenport.

Also on April 3, the council voted unanimously to accept a bid from DNL Cleaning to clean the new town hall one day a week for $40. L&M Cleaning Services also turned in a bid for a $75 weekly cleaning, or $100 for a biweekly cleaning.

Police Chief Mark Hudson reported that March was a quiet month, but told citizens to be aware when out on the road, as it is now motorcycle weather. He added that the Town’s pole radar should be installed in the new few weeks, and that the Town is looking into hiring another part-time officer, for more visibility on the road.

Envision Frankford will hold its second annual Egg Scramble on Saturday, April 15, from 1 to 4 p.m. at Frankford Town Park. The egg hunt for teens and those with special needs will begin at 1:30 p.m. The other age-group hunts will begin at 2 p.m. and run every 20 minutes.

“We had 800 kids last year, so I would expect very similar numbers,” said Murray.

Hocker’s will be on-site, selling hamburgers and hotdogs, while kids can enjoy fun games and crafts, in addition to the egg hunts.