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Deal in works to demolish motor lodge

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Citations against property owner would be forgiven

By Leslie Moore

 

In the 10 years since the Central Kentucky Motor Lodge has stood vacant after a fire, its owner acknowledges that the condition of the building gets worse each year.
“It’s really become an eyesore for that part of the city,” Harold Wilkerson said.
For more than a month following the April 2004 fire that caused major damage to its basement, Wilkerson said the state fire marshal denied him access to the building. It didn’t take long for vandals to smash the windows, rip a new heating unit from the side of the building and tear out the electrical wiring.
By the time the building was released to him, he said more than 60 percent of the building had been vandalized.
A proposal from the City of Campbellsville seeks to resolve the issue that has resulted in several citations being issued because of the building’s violation of the property maintenance code. At a special meeting on Monday, Campbellsville City Council members discussed the terms of the proposal, which includes demolishing the building and turning two out of the four tracts that Wilkerson owns over to the city.
After the building is demolished, the city plans to use tract 1 as a green space and walking corridor from Broadway to Main Street.
Tract 2 would be used as a city street. In exchange, the city would forgive the various citations against Wilkerson.
Council member Mike Hall Jr. said he has been asked several times why the city is giving special treatment to Wilkerson. He said he can only speak for himself but doesn’t see the proposal as the city giving anything to Wilkerson.
 Hall said the terms of agreement would require Wilkerson to give the city half of the property and then allowing them to demolish a building he owns. He said the agreement would benefit the city because they would gain property in exchange for the cost to demolish the building.
“I don’t want anybody to get any idea that the city is in the business of coming in and cleaning up people’s messes at taxpayers’ expense, because I’m not in favor of that,” Hall said.
According to Hall, if the city filed suit to enforce the tax liens against the property, a court would realistically order the situation to be settled through mediation.
In the end, he said, the mediation would likely result in a similar agreement. By not taking the matter to court, Hall said this agreement will save taxpayers $5,000 to $10,000 in court costs and attorney fees to get the same result. Council member Stan McKinney said he agrees with Hall.
“I’m not happy with all the details, but I think overall it is a win for the city and it’s something that needs to be done and be resolved,” McKinney said.
At the meeting, several Council members told City Attorney John Miller that some changes should be made to the proposal.
Miller said he would make the changes to the proposal, including adding a condition that the city assumes no liability for claims relating to or arising from the property before execution of the agreement.
Also added is the granting of a temporary easement required for the demolishment of the building. Wilkerson would also have to grant a permanent easement for the maintenance of the roadway.
A final condition would allow the city to plant vegetation on tract 3 to increase the aesthetic appeal of the property.
The Council voted  10 to 1 to submit the proposal with the discussed changes. Council member Patti Phillips cast the lone “no” vote and said she doesn’t believe taxpayers should have to pay for the demolition of the building.  Council member Paul Osborne didn’t attend the meeting.
Wilkerson, who didn’t attend the meeting, said on Tuesday he hadn’t been made aware of the changes to the proposal.
However, Wilkerson said he is looking forward to working with the city. He said he hopes the agreement will lead to the area being cleaned up and becoming an asset to downtown Campbellsville.
Campbellsville Mayor Tony Young said he has wanted the city to reach an agreement with Wilkerson the entire time he has been mayor.
“I’d love to see it finished by the Fourth of July and I know that’s kind of pushing it, but I’m going to do my best to make it look a lot better and hopefully complete by then, if not soon after,” Young said.