City won’t purchase trailer park

After putting all options on the table before a packed Magnolia Civic Center theater Tuesday evening, the New Albany Board of Aldermen put any possibility of purchasing the city’s only trailer park to rest.

The board allowed a motion by Ward Four Alderman Will Tucker to seek an appraisal of the Eastview Trailer Park, sometimes known as Resthaven, to die without a second.
According to Reagan Russell, attorney for the city’s board of aldermen, state law requires that a municipality must vote to have an appraisal done on any property that it considers purchasing.  Before the board could vote on specific pricing options, it needed to vote in favor of seeking an appraisal.
Two official offers were up for the board’s consideration.  The board could either buy all 7.25 acres of the property, including 38 trailers and approximately 20 motel rooms from the park’s owners at a price of $575,000, or it could purchase 6.75 acres, excluding the motel rooms, for $425,000.
The issue came about in January when a group of city residents who live on Murrah Road urged the board to take some form of action against what they believed to be a growing crime problem emanating from the trailer park.  At that time, residents say, some city officials themselves mentioned the possibility of purchasing the trailer park and using the property to build new facilities for the New Albany Light, Gas & Water.
“We didn’t come to the board in the first place hoping that the city would buy the trailer park, we just wanted ya’ll to do something to clean it up,” said Mike Stepp, a Murrah Rd. resident.  “Board members themselves are the ones who mentioned it.  But, to us, it sounded like a great way to kill two birds with one stone.”
Stepp cited a list of burglaries that have occurred along Murrah Road going back a few years and included not only former resident Amanda Price’s shooting death, but also another round of car burglaries that occurred in January of this year.
While most people in the audience Tuesday were in favor of the purchase, Larry Dykes, a representative of the Southside Neighborhood Association voiced his opposition, saying that the city should not get in the habit of buying up problem areas.
“We’ve got several other things in the city that need to be addressed,” Dykes said.  “It would be unfair to the people who live in that trailer park who don’t commit crimes to just throw them out.  We’ve got crime all over this city, not just this one location.”
One of the park’s owners, Danny Stout, Jr., told the board and audience members that he and his brother, Patrick Stout, were offering the property to the city for prices that would not result in profit for them, but simply allow them to pay off loans taken from BNA Bank.
“We would not have made money off this,” Stout said.  “I understand the situation and I feel bad for the people involved.  With my police background, I have always done my best to police the park and I’ve reported any problems that I’ve found.”
Ward Three Alderman Tommie Beasley told the audience that he would not support the purchase, but believed the money should instead be invested in the city’s police department to step up patrols in the area.
“It’s our police department’s job to make sure that these problems are investigated and taken care of,” Beasley.  “Buying this property would not eliminate crime in the city.”
Ward Two Alderman Johnny Anderson told audience members that he could not vote in favor of using taxpayer money to purchase the property, but he and his wife will commit $1,000 of their own personal savings to help purchase Eastview.  He asked the Stouts to sell the property to private contributors at the price quoted to the city.
“With the blessings of Coach [Ron] Price, Molly Addison and Amanda [Price]’s family, we want to turn the present mobile home park and motel area into a private park named ‘The Amanda Price Memorial Park,’” Anderson said.  “This park would be dedicated to Amanda and could be used as a neighborhood park for use by children, youth and adults.”