The Development Corporation of Snyder (DCOS) is moving to the downtown square.
After meeting in closed session twice on Monday, and hearing a presentation from Executive Director Bill Lavers during the Snyder City Council meeting, the board voted 2-1 to buy the property at 2514 Ave. R from Albert Delorea. Lavers told the council the move could be completed within 60 days.
Melissa Petty made the motion to purchase the property for $161,000 in cash and to authorize Lavers to execute all documents on the DCOS’s behalf. Joe Coronado seconded the motion. Board member Mark Williamson voted against the purchase and Mark McClain was not in attendance. Board chairman Shawn Ragland does not vote unless there is a tie.
Williamson said today that he did not disagree with the purchase, but did have concerns about the current economy in Snyder.
“I do not necessarily disagree with the idea of the DCOS acquiring property for its offices and other purposes. Moving the DCOS headquarters to the downtown square will provide more visibility, help draw foot-traffic into the central business district and provide a wider forum for DCOS to tell its story,” Williamson wrote in an email. “My negative vote was based solely on financial considerations. Our tax revenues have fallen off significantly in recent months and the DCOS has incurred debt related to the development of the rail park. Even though tax revenues are down, the DCOS still has adequate income to pay expenses and service debt, but we cannot be sure that revenues will not decline further. My thinking was that we should retain as much cash as possible to provide a reserve for debt service, operating expense and to help provide incentives for future manufacturing prospects that might be interested in establishing a presence in the rail park or the original industrial park. Buying property diminishes that ability and that is the basis for my dissenting vote.”
The board, along with Snyder City Manager Merle Taylor and Mayor Tony Wofford, met in closed session for 85 minutes during a noon meeting to discuss real estate. The board took no action following that closed session.
After questions about whether it was permitted under the state’s open meeting law were raised, a closed session listed on the council’s agenda was not held on the advice of the city’s attorney, Bryan Guymon, Wofford announced during that meeting.
Lavers then addressed the council about the purchase and asked for its input on the move.
Council member Vernon Clay asked Lavers why he wanted to move.
Lavers said the DCOS office has been at the Prosperity Bank complex for the past 20 years and people “don’t know where we are. They think we are part of the bank.”
He added that moving downtown could “light a spark to more development.”
Clay said he agreed with Lavers and then asked what would be the financial difference between renting the current location and buying the Ave. R property.
Lavers did not provide a dollar amount for either the rent or purchase at that time.
“We will be paying cash for the building,” he said, adding the DCOS is on a month-to-month lease with Prosperity Bank.
Lavers told the council the money that would be used to purchase the building would not come from sales tax, but from proceeds from real estate purchases at the two industrial parks.
Wofford read from a 2010 community assessment of strengths and weaknesses in Snyder. The assessment noted that one of the strengths was a potential for the downtown square and a weakness was the lack of business incubator.
Lavers said last month, and again at the council meeting, that the new location could be used as a business incubator for the community.
Ragland said he like the idea of the office becoming a business incubator for the community.
“That will allow us to give some support for small businesses in our community,” he said. “I think this will give us a chance to showcase businesses in our community and what they do. Some people may not be aware of the things our businesses do.”
Following Lavers’ presentation, the DCOS board met in closed session for 22 minutes before returning to open session to vote on the purchase.
Following the meeting, Ragland said the DCOS would be responsible for all utilities at the new building, and planning, fixtures and furnishings for the new building would be paid from the same account as the property purchase.
“I think this is a great opportunity for us to have a downtown presence,” Ragland said. “I think this will be a good place for the community.”
DeLoera told the DCOS board last month that he could have all of the renovations completed within a month.