Last month, WJRS News reported that the county was moving forward with the process of condemning a property on Airport Road, commonly known as the drag strip.
After holding a mediation meeting with the owners of the property recently as part of that process, County Attorney Kevin Shearer announced Monday morning during a special-called meeting of the Russell County Fiscal Court that a purchase agreement was made in the amount of $360,000 between the county and the property owners.
The fiscal court voted unanimously Monday to purchase the property and then transfer it to the Russell County Industrial Development Authority (RCIDA). The funding for the purchase comes from a grant that was awarded to RCIDA by the Tennessee Valley Authority.
Russell County Judge Executive Gary Robertson and RCIDA Executive Director Bennie Garland reiterated that the money for the purchase will not be coming out of the county budget.
Shearer said he felt like all parties involved left the mediation satisfied, and added that he was glad the county was able to work out a purchase agreement with the owners, avoiding what would set up to be a lengthy legal process.
“I felt like it was good to go and have a good sit down conversation with them and we did that,” Shearer said. “We had a good conversation and I think we got a good deal for the county, but even more importantly, for the industrial development authority. They were the original folks that were interested in this and we were just able to come in and help facilitate that.”
A closing on the property should occur within the next 30-45 days, Shearer told WJRS News.
“Judge, on behalf of the Russell County Industrial Development Authority, I just want to extend our deep appreciation for the support of this fiscal court and the county attorney for negotiating an amendable solution to this problem,” Garland said. “I think this is going be to the benefit of Russell County and its future moving forward in community and economic development. I just want to give a big shoutout to you all for standing behind the industrial development authority and we truly appreciate it.”
Magistrate Mickey Garner asked Garland if he could announce anything regarding future plans for the site, but Garland said he was not at liberty to discuss confidential information at the moment.
“I foresee good things for Russell County in the future,” Garland said.
Scott Pierce, a RCIDA board member, said this action will pay dividends for the long-term future of Russell County.
“I just want to thank you all,” Pierce said. “The fruits of this will be paid out well beyond our lifetime and a lot of times, when industries are looking, it’s those parties that request anonymity. It’s not usually us. Going forward, as a board member, I’d like to see more communication amongst us between us, the judge (Gary Robertson), and the fiscal court. I can’t tell you what this means to Russell County. It’s a major deal.”
The property, totaling a little more than 48.5 acres, sits adjacent to the Lake Cumberland Regional Industrial Complex which is owned by RCIDA.
The Drag Strip property also provides a corridor connecting French Valley Road and Airport Road, and the acquisition of the property is “necessary for the future development of the Lake Cumberland Regional Industrial Site for the benefit of the citizens of Russell County, Kentucky, and for the maintenance of environmental suitability for future development,” according to a resolution approved by RCIDA last month.
The corridor between the two roads would become a public access road, according to the resolution. Magistrates said they hoped the road could potentially alleviate some of the traffic on Highway 127.