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City looks to shed ownership of old boat ramp
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McMinnville officials are relinquishing ownership of property in Westwood. The area was used many years ago by the public for boat access to the Barren Fork River.
“What will happen to it?” asked McMinnville Vice Mayor Everett Brock of the .17 acre parcel.
An easy question had a complicated answer. City attorney Tim Pirtle says outside of the city having no more control of it and no longer being liable for it, its future is unknown.
“It is not my place to advise the adjacent property owners,” Pirtle said. “But they have had dominion or control of the property. They could argue they have proscriptive rights to the property.”
The city gained an easement to the property, located at the corner of Ben Lomand Drive and Westwood Drive, in the 1940s so the public would have access to the river. With the building of Riverfront Park and the ramp in Westwood deteriorating, a fence was placed that prohibited public access. Individuals now access the river from Riverfront Park.
According to Pirtle, the city abandoned the property when repairs were not made and the fence was placed.
“The city ceased to maintain the property more than seven years ago,” he said. “Since that time, the public has been precluded from its use. The city has abandoned it. The law requires you to formally abandon it.”
The city must relinquish control of the property by way of an ordinance, which requires two reads before the board.
Officials voted 4-1 with McMinnville Mayor Norman Rone, Brock and Aldermen Billy Wood and Rick Barnes voting for the measure. Alderman Jimmy Haley voted against it. Aldermen Clair Cochran and Junior Medley were absent.
If the measure passes second read, anyone with a legal interest in the property can file a quitclaim on it. The next regular session is scheduled for Sept. 27.