McMinnville officials will be having their final read Tuesday night on an ordinance to forfeit property in Westwood. The old city boat ramp will be up for grabs – if the measure passes.
At this time, no one has contacted city hall in regard to the property.
“No one has contacted me,” said city administrator David Rutherford.
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.
Rutherford says the city has two options when it comes to the property.
“We could officially abandon the property or sell it,” he said. “If we sell it, we have to declare it surplus and accept bids on it. The process would take a while.”
While selling the property would come with legal hoops, abandoning it takes an ordinance and two reads before the board.
According to city attorney Tim Pirtle during the first discussion on the property, 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,” Pirtle 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 is in the process of doing just that. On Sept. 13, officials voted 4-1 with McMinnville Mayor Norman Rone, Vice Mayor Everett Brock and Aldermen Billy Wood and Rick Barnes voting for relinquishing ownership. Alderman Jimmy Haley voted against it. Alderman Clair Cochran and Junior Medley were absent.
“I just had some unanswered questions,” said Haley of his no vote. “I don’t know who is going to own the property. I don’t know why it came up when it did and why we did that. I’m not opposed to abandoning it necessarily. We have places like that in several areas. Are we going to do this again in those places? I just have unanswered questions.”
Haley says he would have preferred to develop the ramp for extra access into the river years ago, but the cost did not make it feasible at the time.
If the measure passes a second time, anyone with a legal interest in the property can file a quitclaim on it. The board meeting begins at 7 p.m. and is held on the second floor of city hall.