Last Friday Macon County Commissioners formally submitted a bid of $247,000 for the old Cartoogechaye School property. County Manager Jack Horton and board Chairman Brian McClellan updated the board on the bid to possibly obtain the school located on U.S. 64 west of Franklin.
The old Cartoogechaye school was considered surplus in October 2007 after a new school was built. McClellan explains the bid to retain the school as being a service to the taxpayers in Macon County who paid to build the new school site. County commissioners voted to bid on the school just before the 10-day “upset period” was set to expire, upsetting an earlier bid of $235,000 which was placed by a farmer with plans to use the land adjacent to Cartoogechaye Creek for tomato fields.
According to Macon County Schools attorney John Henning Jr., the farmer who originally bid on the property submitted an upset bid of $259,400 as of Wednesday. Henning Jr. expected to receive additional bids before the process is complete. “A couple other parties have shown they are interested, and I anticipate getting another bid.” Henning explained that the upset bid process will start over on Friday and will run until Oct. 3, during which the county would have the opportunity to submit another bid if they choose to do so.
County Commissioner Ronnie Beale explained that very little needs to be done to the land to ready it for new construction. “One of the reasons we are so interested is because the grading is already basically been done, there is already a gymnasium there —currently used by the archery club — that can easily be converted back to a small gym,” he explained. “We have a septic tank that is equipped to handle it, and a concession. We thought it was worth at least this one upset bid.”
Because large portions of the school building itself is not salvageable at a cost effective rate, if the county wins the auction for the property they plan to take down part of the school building, but leave the gym. According to McClellan, the county plans to build bathroom facilities adjacent to the gym and put in two adult-sized back-to-back softball fields. Construction on the new facility would not be immediate because of financial reasons, but the county wants to secure the land to begin converting the facility step-by-step.
According to Beale, by law, the Macon County Board of Education (BOE) had to first offer the vacant school to the county. The BOE offered the old school to the county for close to $1 million, which at the time, was considered fair-market value. “We didn’t jump all over that,” said Beale, “we waited and now have this one the table and agreed to upset it at the five percent at least this one time.”
According to McClellan, the commissioners felt confident the property would be worth the $247,000 bid the county submitted. McClellan explained that each additional bid after the initial bid, must be five percent higher than the last one, and the county is confident they have the finances to offer that amount.
“We would hate to see that property get away from the county for how cheaply we think we can purchase it,” said McClellan. “Additionally, it is kind of coming out of one pocket and going into the other, because it is all county dollars.”
“Once approved, a bid will be advertised for an upset bid for 10 days, and after that period the Board of Education can act to go ahead and sell the property to the county for the amount that the county bid,” explained Horton.
Commissioner Beale noted that at this point the board did not have any predetermined plans on what action to take now that their bid was upset, but he and Horton agree that the board will discuss it at Thursday’s special calledwork session.