Board postpones action again on purchase of office building

By Bill Short

For the second consecutive month, the Oakland Board of Mayor and Aldermen has unanimously postponed the purchase of an office building at 70 Clay St.

Board members made that decision again during their July 19 regular monthly meeting on a motion offered by Alderman Karl Chambless and seconded by Alderman Chuck Wombough.

At the board’s April 17 monthly meeting, City Finance Director Pam Walker said there had been some discussion about moving the administrative offices from City Hall into space that would be rented at 70 Clay St. and the first two bays in Tommy Johnson’s building. She said the offices of the mayor and Human Resources director might possibly be moved into the second bay.

The administration has been approached by the Tennessee Department of Corrections about renting some space from the town. Noting that the “parole people” have been coming into City Hall only one day a week, Walker said they want space that they can use all five days.

By renting them some space in the facility that houses the Oakland Building and Codes Enforcement offices, she said that would generate some revenue that would cover the cost of renting the space on Clay Street and in Johnson’s building.

Walker said the Building and Codes Enforcement employees would move into the space at City Hall that currently houses the administrative offices.

When Alderman Chuck Wombough asked whether the Department of Corrections has mentioned how much it would pay to rent the space, Walker said it was discussed.

“They were wanting two offices, and they would be ecstatic if they could get three,” she noted. “So, we showed them space, and they were very excited about it.”

Walker said she suggested a rental amount to the Department of Corrections, which will be discussed by the department supervisors.

She said there are a total of 1,800 to 1,900 square feet in the two bays in Johnson’s building. And the monthly rent is $2,000, including utilities, which Oakland Building Official Walter Owen considers “very reasonable.”

To renovate the facility for the town’s needs, Walker has said it will cost $1,800 to $2,000 to install a front counter in the first bay.

“There are four offices already in the second bay,” she has noted. “And I think, right now, those could be used as they are. Possibly, two walls could be knocked out and another wall put up to make one space a little bigger, but no major renovation.”

Because City Hall is “overcrowded,” Wombough has acknowledged that the town needs “that space over there” for its administrative duties. And he said the fact that the Parole Board is willing to rent some space in the Annex building will help offset the cost of the rent.

Walker has said Johnson’s building has been appraised at $410,000. Wombough has said the appraisal basically answers all the questions the board had about the “viability” of the building and also mentions the income that would be generated by it for the town.