Talk, but no action, by City Council on Armory purchase

ELKINS – Despite Elkins City Council and the Randolph County Commission meeting in separate lengthy executive sessions on the issue Thursday, no vote was taken on the proposed purchase of the former Elkins National Guard Armory.

On Aug. 7, Elkins City Council approved on its first reading an ordinance allowing the city and the County Commission to buy the former Armory. The second and final reading of the ordinance was on the agenda for Thursday’s City Council meeting, but just after the meeting began Council went into executive session to discuss the ordinance and two unrelated personnel issues.

After an hour and five minutes, Council came back into regular session, with Mayor Van Broughton saying “no action was taken” on any of the items during the executive session. When the meeting’s agenda later came to the second reading of the ordinance, Broughton simply repeated “no action taken” and the meeting moved on. There was no public discussion of the Armory purchase plan during the meeting.

After the meeting, Broughton told The Inter-Mountain it was unclear whether the second reading of the ordinance would be placed on a future meeting’s agenda. He said he could not make further comment on the situation.

During Thursday afternoon’s Randolph County Commission meeting, the Commissioners went into executive session to discuss the Armory purchase plan with Broughton, Elkins City Attorney Geraldine Roberts and Randolph County Prosecuting Attorney Michael Parker. No action on the issue was taken during or following the executive session.

On Thursday evening, Commissioner Mike Taylor told The Inter-Mountain he expects the County Commission to hold a special meeting within the next week regarding the Armory purchase plan. He said he could provide no further information on the issue.

The proposed Armory purchase plan’s price was announced as $200,000, with the cost being split equally between the city and county.

Taylor announced the Armory purchase plan at the July 17 Commission meeting. He said the deal would include the main Armory building, which is about 20,000 square feet, 8 acres of land near Elkins Middle School and several utility buildings.

Numerous outside entities have expressed interest in utilizing the building. The Mountain State Forest Festival has presented the County Commission with a letter of intent that they want to be an intricate part of the facility, possibly even a lessee, Taylor said.

The County Commission and Elkins City Council have been working with the Randolph County Development Authority and the Mountain State Forest Festival board of directors to obtain the former Armory for use as a community building.

Construction of the new $15.5 million Armed Forces Reserve Center, located just off Corridor H near Belington, has made the old Armory obsolete.

In January 2013, a feasibility study, initiated by the RCDA, was presented to local agencies to provide information on the costs of maintaining and upgrading the building.