Council votes for earnest money contract including mobile home, land in New Waverly?
by Walker County News Today staff
It appears that the Huntsville City Council, in their rush to acquire the 6.324- acre site of the previous Ella Smither Geriatric Center, has voted to purchase the wrong property.
During the Feb. 6 City Council meeting , Councilman Keith Olson made the motion that the City of Huntsville enter into an earnest money contract with the Walker County Hospital District to purchase four parcels of land specifically identified as parcel numbers 57003, 57004, 57005, and 57006 for $2.25 million. Council voted 6-1 in favor of the motion.
The trouble is, according to public information, two of the four parcels of land listed in Olson’s motion aren’t actually owned by the Walker County Hospital District and are not even located inside the Huntsville city limits.
Parcel number 57003 is a mobile home (just the mobile home, not the land) located outside the Huntsville city limits in the eastern part of Walker County. Parcel number 57004 is a 3-acre tract of land in the New Waverly area. The Hospital District owns neither.
There is no evidence in city records that the city of Huntsville is attempting to purchase the additional two parcels that make up the rest of the Ella Smither campus. Those parcels are identified in appraisal district records as 30203 and 30204.
Ward 3 council member Ronnie Allen has twice voted against the land sale. No one on council has publicly questioned the ownership and location of the four parcels now part of the proposed real estate purchase.
Where things stand now
City Council voted 6-1 to enter into an earnest money contract with the Hospital District for what appears to be only half of the Ella Smither property, a mobile home with no land, and a three acre tract of land near New Waverly for a price of $2.25 million.
No action has been taken by council to add the remaining half of the Ella Smither property to the purchase agreement with the Hospital District. Or to remove the two properties that aren’t actually owned by the Hospital District.
The Hospital District voted in their January 2018 meeting to place the Ella Smither property up for sale via a competitive bid process then suddenly reversed course in February and agreed to sell the property to the city.
One week ago Walker County News Today submitted a public information request to both the City of Huntsville and the Walker County Hospital District asking for additional information about the proposed transaction. As of this writing, neither entity has provided the requested information.
It is also unclear why council moved forward with the earnest money contract to purchase the four parcels that were specified in Olson’s Feb. 6 motion when their own City Charter requires that this type of purchase can be done only after two “public readings,” which also include an opportunity for public comment.