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City transfers empty property to the RCDA

ELKINS–The City of Elkins announced the transfer of the 11th Street property that previously housed the Street Department garage to the Randolph County Development Authority during a city council meeting held virtually via Zoom this week.

The property in question sits on the corner of 11th Street and Barron Avenue and is 0.71 acres.

“That property has been sitting empty for a long time,” Fourth Ward Councilwoman Karen Wilmoth said. “The (Street Department) garage moved when I was on council the first time and it’s just been sitting there and doing the city no good and not generating any revenue or any tax revenue, so it’ll be a good thing to get in the hands of the Development Authority, who has a much better way of dealing with it than the city does.”

If the city were to sell this property an auction would be required.

“Under the West Virginia code either a county or a municipality that owns any kind of property can transfer it to a Development Authority,” City Attorney Gerry Roberts said. “Of course, this will only be done with the explicit understanding and permission of council as to what the property is going to be transferred for, for future development.”

“The RCDA, or any Development Authority, is not obligated to sell the property in the same manner that a city or a county would have to do. This is a common tool that’s used in order to allow a Development Authority to promote the economic development of the particular area,” Roberts said.

The city attempted to sell this property in the early 2010s and received one bid at “about half of the appraised value,” Roberts said.

“Normally when you make a transfer to a public agency like this it’s without the consideration to give them the ability to do the development,” she said. “Then, at the time it’s ultimately sold for whatever development is done, those monies would come back to the city since the city is the owner of the property.”

Second Ward Councilman Charlie Friddle abstained from the vote as he is a board member of the RCDA.

All other council members voted in favor of the resolution.

∫ Also at Thursday’s meeting, full-time employment status was approved for the city’s external affairs specialist Sutton Stokes and executive secretary Chelsea Boggs.

“I just wanted to say that Sutton’s done an amazing job and I appreciate not only the knowledge and the skill that he brought to this position in the start but also his ability to adapt during these times,” City Clerk Jessica Sutton.

“We’ve been very lucky in the mayor and clerk’s office to have gotten Chelsea and Sutton at the same time,” she said. “She’s also done a great job. She’s a very quick learner and she brings a level of professionalism and calmness that I really appreciate.”

∫ Nearing the end of the meeting, Elkins Police Chief Travis Bennett stated that the renovations being made to the police department offices in City Hall are nearing completion. The remaining tasks include installing the air conditioning system and placing door knobs and light fixtures.

“We’ve also seen an increase over the past few weeks of serious accidents in Elkins and in the surrounding area,” Bennett said.

“A lot of people (are) speeding and I think that’s contributing to it. I think a lot of it is where all law enforcement agencies haven’t been making a lot of traffic stops due to the pandemic.”

“Over the next few weeks we’re going to be conducting targeted enforcement operations on the five-lane to see if we can’t get people to slow down there,” he said.

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