McCOOK, Nebraska -- The county-owned apartment house at 524 Norris Ave. in McCook, Nebraska, won't work for the family resources organization that looked at it as a possible rent-free location.
Red Willow County commission chairman Earl McNutt said during the commissioners' weekly meeting Monday morning that representatives of the Family Resources Center "threw up their hands" after touring the large, two-story apartment house that the county purchased last year for the city lot on which it sits. "It's not a viable prospect for them," McNutt said, citing the lack of handicap accessibility and central air conditioning.
Because of those concerns, along with updating/remodeling and extensive cleaning that would be needed for any tenant, McNutt said, "It's of little or no use for a business."
Commissioners purchased the apartment house, garage and city lot thinking the county could use the land for parking, or, (in conjunction with another purchase and a possible future purchase) for courthouse expansion or the construction of a jail. When no one came forward two weeks ago to purchase the apartment house to move it off the lot or to tear it down for salvage, commissioners considered offering it to the Family Resources Center in lieu of a monetary contribution from the county to the organization.
County attorney Paul Wood told commissioners that there is nothing illegal with the county offering the county-owned property to a non-profit organization. No bids would be needed because it's not a sale, that the "rent" would be considered the county's contribution to the organization's budget, Wood said. The county would not be required to pay property taxes on the property as it would if it were used as a traditional rental property, he said. The costs of remodeling, handicap accessibility and/or utilities would have to be negotiated with a tenant, he said.
Commissioners discussed the possibility of "renting" of the former beauty shop north of the courthouse to another non-profit organization, Lutheran Family Services, which handles the county's juvenile diversion program -- JDP. As in the other situation, the use of the building, and possibly utilities, would be considered as part of or in lieu of the county's monetary contribution (which was $12,000 for 2009-10).
Chris Berry of McCook, who coordinates the JDP, said the former beauty shop location is "very doable," especially in light of parking and storage improvements over their present location at 110 West C, in the Merit Building in downtown McCook.
Demolishing the apartment house at 524 Norris would be even more imperative then, McNutt said, providing even more parking spaces for those on courthouse business.
Berry said the beauty shop would need some minor remodeling, including creating a conference room, several partition walls and a restroom on the ground floor.
Commissioners and Berry will discuss the situation and the JDP's 2010-2011 budget at the commissioners' meeting Monday, June 28.