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Milltown looks to sell piece of property

Milltown looks to sell piece of property Milltown looks to sell piece of property
Chris Adams, Contributing Writer

The Milltown Town Council, at its June 14 meeting, moved to begin the selling process for one of two pieces of property it recently had appraised.

The property the council decided to sell — at 307 E. Main St. NW — appraised for $1,000 and $3,500. The two appraisals, which are required by law, include the cost of demolishing and disposing of a home located on the property.

At councilmember Jean Melton’s urging, the council decided to hold off on selling the other property, located at the base of Harrison Avenue along Blue River, because of its potential historical significance.

“We might want to think about that property and not selling it right now,” she said. “The other one we definitely want to sell, I think, but that piece of property has on it, at the end that goes into the river, it has one of the piers from the old railroad crossing. That might be of some use to us at some point from a historical perspective.”

The Harrison Avenue lot appraised for $6,000 and $10,000.

If the town held onto that property, Police Chief Jimmie Vincent encouraged the council to block it off, as there have been problems keeping the area clean.

Town manager Josh Breeding, who secured the appraisals for both properties, suggested, if the council decided to sell the properties, it do so via an online auction.

Town attorney David Hutson said while an auction is an option, if the assessed value of a property is less than $15,000, the town instead can accept bids. It simply has to publish a notice of the sale and notify the abutting landowners by certified mail, he said.

Hutson added if the property was acquired by the town via tax default, which the Harrison Avenue lot was, the town can transfer the property to an abutting landowner for little or no compensation.

“We don’t want to give it away,” Melton said.

While deciding to hold onto the Harrison Avenue lot for now, the council voted 2-0 (Councilman Justin Barnes was absent) to inform adjacent landowners by certified mail that it is putting the property at 307 E. Main St. NW up for sale and will be accepting bids from the public.

In another matter, Jerry Mackey, president of the council, provided an update regarding the Milltown Beautification Committee.

After the council was approached in May by resident Bill Byrd about accepting money raised through the years by the no longer active Beautification Committee, Mackey said he would get in touch with Marquita Taylor, who was active with the committee for years, to discuss the funds.

Mackey, noting the committee was created by its own members with no action from the town council, said he didn’t think the town should receive the funds.

“My recommendation would be to leave it where it’s at,” he said of the money. “Let them take care of it themselves.”

Byrd said he helped raise the funds, which in May he noted have grown from the initial $10,000 raised during the town’s sesquicentennial in 1989 to more than $30,000 thanks to investments. He indicated that the matter may need to go to court.

Melton said the Beautification Committee has done a good job but needs younger volunteers who are able to be active.

The town’s clerk-treasurer, Alicia Lutz, said there have been people volunteering by cleaning flower beds and planting flowers.

Mackey indicated more discussion is needed.

The council also revisited discussions it previously had regarding the old railroad trestle property that is believed to be owned by the town and that Cave Country Canoes wants to acquire.

Breeding said the Beacon GIS system used by Crawford County shows the property belongs to Cave Country Canoes, adding that, according to the county assessor, the canoe rental business has been paying taxes on the property since 2014.

Cave Country Canoes’ Sherri Nail, who was in the audience with owner Gordon Smith, said Beacon isn’t always accurate.

Breeding said the issue stems from when Southern Railroad no longer wanted the property, the original owner didn’t claim it and the land was deeded to the town. However, he hasn’t been able to locate a record of that.

Hutson said the town could quick claim the property to Cave Country Canoes. Doing so legally allows the town “to say, ‘We don’t know what we own, but if we own any form of this, it’s yours’.”

Hutson added that, as long as there is a legal description of the property, he believes the town should be able to have the property, which is vacant, appraised.

In other business, the council:

Swore in David Winebrenner as an officer with the Milltown Police Dept.

Approved replacing a residential pump at the Indiana Avenue lift station. The pump will cost $5,315. The start-up kit costs $245, while labor is $1,150, bringing the total cost to $6,710.

Gave Breeding approval to pursue bringing in food trucks once a month in an effort to attract visitors to town.

Was informed by Melton the town received the $2,500 Endangered Places Grant it applied for from Indiana Landmarks to assess and devise a plan for rehabilitation of the Milltown Town Hall. The grant required a $650 match from the town. Melton said Michell Allen Ritz Architects will provide the assessment.

The town council’s next meeting is scheduled for Monday at 7 p.m.