Scott City board OKs payment, still seeking purchase of parking lot

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Scott City will pay its annual $1,500 lease payment to Union Pacific Railroad for a municipal parking lot on Main Street. However, the city will remain in negotiations to purchase the lot.

At its last regular meeting on Nov. 20, the city council learned that Union Pacific would hold the lease agreement in default if the $1,500 payment wasn't received by Friday. Mayor Tim Porch has since then authorized city administrator Ron Eskew to make the payment. If the lease were to go into default the city would be forced to remove improvements that have been made on the lot since the lease began in the 1960s.

Union Pacific billed the city for the lease payment in August at which time the city began negotiations with the railroad to purchase the 90- by 600-foot area. Negotiations are still ongoing.

James Barnes, a spokesperson for Union Pacific, said the negotiations could still take some time, which is typical with such situations.

"The process is not quite as fluid as selling residential real estate," he said.

Before any purchase can happen it must be approved by upper management within the company, Barnes said.

Scott City uses the lot for a variety of functions, including parking for business, a hang-out spot for teenagers and for use in the local chamber of commerce's annual citywide yard sale. The city's historical society also has a historic caboose parked on the lot commemorating Scott City's railroad history.

Ward 4 councilman Norman Brant and Ward 2 councilman John Crail both agree that making the payment and keeping the lot is the best course of action.

Crail supports having businesses that use the lot to help pay for the cost of maintaining the lot.

"We don't want to lose it, I just wish we could get some of the businesses to help pay for it," Crail said.

Barnes said no time frame is set for when the city and the railroad might reach an agreement on the purchase.

So far the city has offered up to $15,000 per acre for the nearly two-acre lot, but Eskew declined to disclose the city's latest offer for fear of jeopardizing negotiations. Eskew said the situation will be discussed at the next city council meeting on Monday.

msanders@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 182

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