Pelham approves $450k land purchase

The Pelham City Council voted Aug. 22 to purchase a 1-acre tract of land and a building near Pelham City Park for $450,000. (Reporter Photo/Neal Wagner)

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

The Pelham City Council voted 3-2 Aug. 22 to purchase a 1-acre tract of land and a 10,000-square-foot building off Ballpark Road for $450,000.

Council President Mike Dickens, Councilman Bill Meadows and Councilwoman Teresa Nichols voted in favor of the purchase and Councilman Steve Powell and Councilwoman Karyl Rice voted against.

The vote came one week after the council announced it was considering purchasing 1-acre tract, and about a month after the council voted to purchase about 35.78 acres surrounding the plot for $4.94 million.

The 1-acre plot is currently owned by William Gayle and Donald Guy, and houses the John Deere Landscapes company.

Because the land is in the center of the 35.78 acres the council previously purchased, Pelham Mayor Don Murphy said it would be “asinine” to not purchase it given the opportunity.

“I think any investor would buy it,” Murphy said. “I think it’s prudent, if you’ve already made a $4 million commitment, to buy the last remaining piece while you still can.”

Meadows said if Pelham did not purchase the 1-acre plot, it could result in a scenario similar to the one Birmingham is facing with attempting to purchase the B&A Warehouse near Railroad Park. Birmingham officials are attempting to purchase the century-old warehouse to use the land for a proposed ballpark, but the majority owner of the warehouse has not agreed to the city’s purchase terms.

Powell, who also opposed the $4.94 million purchase, said he would rather see the money spent on the Pelham property purchase used to relocate one of the city’s fire stations to better serve residents on Shelby County 11 and 36.

“As the city has extended down 36 and 11, we have homes and developments that range from seven to 11 miles from a fire station,” Powell said. “I see that we’ve got needs that far exceed a 10,000-square-foot building.

“Why do we need that land? There has been no plan or discussion about what we are even going to do with it,” Powell added.

Murphy accused Powell of “playing politics,” and said Powell should have taken a proactive approach toward improving the city’s fire coverage.

“Steve, you’ve been here three years. You should have brought something up (about the fire station) before now,” Murphy said. “I think it’s time to quit playing politics and join me to build a fire station out there.

“I wish you would put as much enthusiasm toward that as you are putting negativity toward this and toward me,” Murphy added.