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Officials to take tour of city property
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McMinnville officials may start the new year with a tour of some old buildings. The date for a walkthrough of city-owned properties has been tentatively set.
“I’ve set the day as Jan. 5,” said city administrator David Rutherford. “It’s a Saturday. If they prefer a weekday, we may have to change it.”
The tour is part of an orientation effort to allow new board members a look into what the city owns and see for themselves any upgrades that need to be made.
Among the properties to be toured: Civic Center built in 1975; Fire Station One purchased in 1977; Public Works on Belmont drive purchased in the early 1990s; and the Blue Building purchased in the late 1970s.
Officials are discussing the fate of the Blue Building. The property has been in the city’s hands for more than 30 years, but the original home at the center of it was built in 1869.  Additions of auditorium, gymnasium and wings flanking the main building were made in the 1900s when the property was purchased and its building renovated to be a school.
The building has been vacant since 2009, when the McMinnville Police Department was moved out of the building and into Red Road Business Park.
In 2008 the building made the Tennessee Preservation Trust’s  “Ten in Tennessee” endangered sites list and underwent a review by a team from the Center of Historic Preservation at Middle Tennessee State University.
Rachel Killebrew, who was one of those who requested a review by MTSU, says the building is solid.
“The team determined there was no structural damage to the building,” Killebrew said. “They did a thorough review. They said there were a lot of neglect and maintenance issues, but the building is solid.”
The property recently failed a referendum that questioned if city voters would approve the spending of up to $6 million on its renovation. Alderman Rick Barnes says the measure was doomed by the price.
“I think the building is repairable and worth repairing,” said Barnes. “I also think it should go through a referendum before we spend any money on it. It was put to a referendum, and I think the cards were stacked against it with the pricetag placed on it.”
Board members will also receive a visit from Municipal Technical Advisory Service in mid-January as part of their continued orientation. MTAS is a technical assistance provider with consultants that offer advise to municipalities and instructional classes to officials in the areas of finance, ethics, open meetings, etc.