Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

April 8, 2013

City interested in renovating old VSO building

By Gary Nelson
Senior staff writer

CROSSVILLE — A lengthy debate consumed commissioners of the building and grounds committee last week as they considered the future of the former Veteran's Service Office building behind the courthouse.

The building on Thurman Ave. is in disrepair and needs much work to make it a useable facility, which is one of the main reasons the Veteran's Service Office was moved into the lower level of the Cumberland County Courthouse.

Sonya Rimmer, building and grounds committee chairman and 8th District commissioner, shared a letter Cumberland County Mayor Kenneth Carey Jr. received from Crossville City Manager Bruce Wyatt expressing interest in the building.

In the letter, Wyatt said the city would be interested in purchasing the building from the county for $1 and would take over the expense and care of the building.

"My initial reaction is that I recommend the county should not sell the property, but maybe lease it instead," Carey said.

"I may be criticized highly for saying this, but I don't care. That building should be torn down. It's not worth saving. We just went through all of this and the problems we're having at the old high school (portion) at the Justice Center. That building needs to come down," said 1st District Commissioner Harry Sabine.

"The city plans on renovating it and would probably put about $25,000 to $30,000 into it," Rimmer said.

"That's crazy. Even if we lease the property. I will vote no to anything that doesn't include tearing that building down. I make a motion right now that I recommend we tear that building down," Sabine said.

"I will second it for discussion," Carmin Lynch, 9th District commissioner said.

"It's literally falling apart and needs way too much work. It's a liability," Sabine said.

Rimmer said the city would like to renovate the building and install new rest rooms and maybe new offices for DCI (Downtown Crossville Incorporated).

"They want to make it usable and I'm a fan of selling it to them for $1 and then it no longer belongs to us, it belongs to the city," Lynch said.

Rimmer suggested amending the agreement with the city on the amphitheater to include the old VSO building.

The committee then voted on Sabine's motion to tear the building down and it failed with Sabine voting yes and the rest of the committee voting against the motion.

Lynch said, "I think we ought to defer it until we get more specific information. This is not a real proposal."

Cumberland County Attorney Randal Boston said there was no defined boundary of the property or a defined description.

Roy Turner, 7th District commissioner, then made a motion to add the building to the agreement with the city on the amphitheater and let the city come back and "Do whatever they want to with the building."

That motion failed.

Lynch then moved to accept the letter and have the city manager come to the county and meet with the committee and discuss and negotiate the matter.

Turner supported the motion and it was unanimously approved.