The Whitesburg City Council voted unanimously at its June meeting Tuesday to place the old Salyer Radio Building up for bid.
The action came at the suggestion of Dr. John Pellegrini of Whitesburg, who told the council that he and Whitesburg businessman Joel Beverly had discussed the possibility of rehabilitating the structure, which he said may be on the National Register of Historic Places.
Pellegrini said the building’s historical integrity would be maintained, providing it wasn’t too badly damaged by years of neglect. He added that it will need a new roof and much other work.
Pellegrini told the council he would like to open the building, last used as an office for a cable television company, as an arts and crafts center with the possibility of using it for metal work or blacksmithing. He said he understands that the town would be interested in maintaining the building’s historical value if it is possible.
Mayor James Wiley Craft said that unless Pellegrini represented a non-profit organization the council would need to either put the building up for sale by bid or auction it off. Pellegrini told the council it should handle the matter in the way that would give the city the greatest profit. The council voted unanimously to accept sealed bids for the property, which was deeded to the city after it was no longer in use.
Whitesburg architect Bill Richardson, who also attended the meeting, said the Salyer building could be rehabilitated in much the same manner as the old KYVA Motor Company building, which is now the site of distillery that is under construction. Richardson said the KYVA building exists today because Craft protected it from demolition several years ago.
“It was said to be falling down too,” said Richardson. “Now it looks great.”
Richardson also told the council he is working with the Farmers Market Alliance on a permanent structure for the market and said they are making progress on the project.
In other business, the council heard the first reading of the an ordinance to set the city budget for the 2015- 16 fiscal year. Craft conducted the reading of the budget, which calls for total appropriations of $1,910,500. Craft said that the budget is subject to change before the second reading and that an appropriation of $2,000 for the Riverside Days Festival will be removed and placed back into the city’s budget. Craft set the second reading for a special called meeting for June 22 at noon in City Hall.
Craft told the council and audience that the city is slowly returning to financial stability and that it had paid $800,000 of its debt to Veolia Water. He added that the remainder of the debt is around $150,000.
“We are making progress with that monumental debt,” said Craft. “And in eliminating Veolia as a thorn in our side.”
In other business:
• the council voted unanimously to appoint City Maintenance Supervisor Ken Sexton as the city’s agent to work with FEMA to see that the city’s losses from weather damage this winter will be reimbursed.
• Craft reminded the council that the Farmers Market will open Saturday, June 13 at 9 a.m. and remain open through 1 p.m. He urged everyone to visit the market and support local farmers.
• Craft announced that Sundy Best will provide the evening entertainment for the city’s July 4 celebration at the River Park and promised that the fireworks display will be spectacular.
• approved Glow Walk/ Run to be held as a fundraiser for the Mountain Heritage Festival on June 20, with June 27 as an alternative date in case of rain. The event will begin at 9 p.m.