Interest is high in Pigeon community lots

By Vicki Hyatt | Jan 03, 2017

Three lots within the town of Waynesville acquired by the county several months ago through foreclosure are being eyed by two separate entities as a way to offer a gathering area for the Pigeon community.

Michael Tate told the Haywood County Board of Commissioners he has an interest in purchasing the lots that total almost three-fourths of an acre to build an events center — a place where individuals in the community could gather for weddings, reunions or just socializing on weekends.

The lots are located at 10 Calvary St. and are also of interest to the town of Waynesville, where the town board will be discuss the possibility of building a park.

Both ideas were discussed Tuesday where Waynesville Town Manager Rob Hites said the park idea came from town planning board member Phil Gibbs who suggested a sheltered area could be built for community events and a play center could occupy a portion of the area. Hites estimated the town would spend $65,000 to $100,000 providing a suitable arrangement could be reached with the county.

County Manager Ira Dove requested approval to negotiate with the town, which had indicated it would demolish a house on the property which is too dilapidated to be useful.

“The town, through the manager and mayor, has talked to us and a full-blown town discussion will happen next week,” Dove said.

The town is suggesting a partnership with the county to make the park possible, Dove said, adding the county has spent $16,000 in the foreclosure process.

Located directly behind the Head Start building on Pigeon Street, a portion of the property is dissected by Calvary Street, and Dove said indications were a portion of the street could be closed if a park was built.

Commissioner Kevin Ensley suggested the terrain appeared unsuitable for a park. He said there is a larger piece of flat land behind the Pigeon Community Multicultural Center that would be much more suitable for a park than such a small parcel with such a steep terrain.

Commissioner Michael Sorrells questioned removing property from the tax rolls if there was a private individual willing to buy it.

“We owe it to citizens look at getting it back on the tax rolls,” he said.

Sorrells asked whether the community had weighed in on the matter, and Hites indicated the idea hadn’t reached that level yet.

Commission Chairman Kirk Kirkpatrick said since there are two ideas for using the property, it would make sense for both parties to submit concrete proposals for the commissioners to consider.

“Mr. Tate is interested, but we have no official offer and there’s no official offer from the town,” he said. “The board has some interest in recouping expenses for taxes and possibly putting it back on the tax rolls, but what it the real interest of the community?”

When the county disposes of property, it must follow a bid process, which includes an avenue for upset bids.

“It is good this was brought up here so hopefully the public can provide some ideas as to what kind of use they want it to have,” Kirkpatrick said.

Following the meeting, Tate told The Mountaineer he had a group of investors interested in creating a nice venue for weddings, private parties, perhaps dancing, with both indoor and outdoor event spaces.

“Until last week, I didn’t know about the park issue,” he said. “It is not a level area.”