Grimes County Commissioners Court met in Executive Session, Wednesday, Aug. 16, to discuss purchase offers on the former county maintenance building at 112 Main Street in Anderson. Seated in the hallway awaiting the courts’ decision, were representatives of potential buyer, the Town of Anderson.
Reconvening a halfhour later, County Judge Joe Fauth announced, “We as a court are making the decision that we don’t have enough language in the agenda to accept offers at this point or make a decision because we currently have two offers.”
Fauth directed the item be placed on a future agenda.
In a statement to the Examiner, County Attorney Jon C. Fultz said, “Generally speaking, the County is limited to selling real property by public auction, sealed bid or through the employment of a real estate broker.”
Referring to legislative statutes, Fultz said, “The safeguards are intended to ensure that the Commissioners Court maximizes the amount realized from the sale of a taxpayer owned asset and that prospective buyers are treated equally.”
“Commitment to progress”
The migration of county departments to the Grimes County Justice & Business Center complex leaves a significant number of empty, or soon-to-be empty, buildings within the Anderson city limits. This presents opportunities for the Town of Anderson to end its lengthy search for a permanent, city-owned town hall.
Addressing the court, Anderson Mayor Marc Benton said, “While we will be forever grateful to the American Legion McClusky Post 640 for donating our current location, it is just not adequate for our current and growing needs. With this in mind, I am here to humbly request your support for our initiative to acquire a new Town Hall and Visitors Center, a space that will serve as the heart of our town on Main Street.”
Benton continued, “Beyond that, it will serve as a community resource for space for office leases, a business incubator to provide space and guidance for anyone with an idea and the gumption to get it done, a place to educate the youth of Grimes County about business and entrepreneurship through Junior Achievement, and a home for the new Anderson Economic Development Commission (EDC) and Anderson Beautification Committee.”
Citing their diligent search, Benton said, “After careful consideration, we did find a property that aligns perfectly with our vision. This property obviously is 112 Main Street. It offers the ideal location and space to create a functional and aesthetically pleasing Town Hall and Visitors Center that will stand as a testament to our commitment to progress and community engagement.”
Benton presented a conceptual design which features a foyer/visitors center, offices for elected officials, a conference room, kitchen, restrooms, storage, lease offices, a business incubator and network closet.
Benton said, “Anderson is still not served with high speed internet. I’d like to pursue a partnership with BVCOG. net.”
He proposed extending BVCOG’s fiber at SH 90 and FM 149 to Town Hall and use the network closet as a head to service the community or through a wireless tower behind the property.
Benton said, “As you can see, our vision for this property goes way beyond a simple town hall. Your decision to accept our price for 112 Main Street will not only be a strategic financial investment but also a symbolic gesture of your belief in our town’s potential.”
Shoring up the base
Serving as the county seat since 1846 is a point of pride for Anderson residents, and it should be after fending off efforts to move it in 1870, 1890 and 1948.
It is the smallest incorporated town in Grimes County in terms of area at 0.51 square miles, but approximately 45% of the properties within the city limits are owned by nonprofits which pay no tax at all.
Factoring lost revenue from a dozen county buildings, numerous church-owned properties, multiple school buildings, historic properties and other nonprofit entities, city operations are funded by residents and approximately 25 businesses. A functioning base of operations and creation of the Anderson EDC are tools to attract new businesses and adjust that equation.
Benefiting the whole
Responding to alleged concerns that “doing something for Anderson that may be in conflict with the rest of the municipalities in Grimes County,” Benton presented a letter signed by the mayors of Bedias, Iola, Navasota, Plantersville and Todd Mission.
It states, “We, the undersigned mayors of Grimes County, applaud the efforts of the Town of Anderson to establish a Town Hall and Visitor’s Center by converting the property at 112 Main Street in Anderson. While we understand the offer by the city for this property is well under the appraised value, we encourage the County Judge and the Commissioners to accept the offer. The growth of any municipality within Grimes County is a benefit to the whole.”
Benton said, “We are not just investing in bricks and mortar; we are investing in the very fabric of our community… I humbly request your support and favorable consideration of our proposal.”
The meeting can be viewed in its entirety at http://grimescountytx. granicus.com/View- Publisher.php?view_id=1