City commission refuses to protect agreement it made with historical society to give them a chance to preserve historic building
Alamogordo Daily News
By John Bear, Staff Writer alamogordonews.com
Posted: 04/11/2012 09:51:24 PM MDT
The Alamogordo City Commission failed to pass a measure that would have directed city staff not to sell the Plaza Pub, and a Pittsburgh-based development company is now seeking to buy the building.
The Tularosa Basin Historical Society wants to use the historic Plaza Pub building for its museum, which is currently next door to the Alamogordo Chamber of Commerce on White Sands Boulevard.
The measure was on the commission's agenda for its regular meeting Tuesday night. District 4 Commissioner Josh Rardin made a motion to vote on the measure, but it failed to garner a second and the motion died.
Rardin said it would be pointless for the historical society to seek grants if the city is no longer in possession of the building.
"I feel that it is wrong that two weeks ago we gave them permission to apply for grants to work on the pub and now two weeks later we are discussing potentially selling the building out from under them," Rardin said.
He said had the issue come to a vote he would have voted against authorizing city staff to sell the building.
City attorney Stephen Thies said a company, Armstrong Development Properties, which has previously expressed interest in the property, made an offer April 5. Armstrong Development Properties Inc. represents the interests of the CVS pharmacy chain.
He said the offer was above the appraised value of the building, but declined to say specifically how much the offer was for. He said the company has sent a letter of intent to the city.
City manager Mark Roath said a potential sale of the building had been placed on a previous agenda to be discussed in closed session, but that the commission had never taken any action on the item, so he never directed city staff to list the building for sale.
He said that the commission would have to place any potential sale of the property on an agenda and vote on it.
The commission authorized the historical society to seek grants related to the renovation of the building, which the city owns. Roath wrote a letter to the historical society confirming the commission had granted the society 12 months to apply for grants.
Josette Herrell, a member of the historical society board of directors, said she was surprised to find out the Plaza Pub has an interested buyer.
"We thought that was done," Herrell said. "We thought they were going to give us a letter and give us a year to try."
Herrell said once an elected body makes a commitment to constituents that it was important for it to stand by that commitment.
She said the historical society could use another building in town, but the Plaza Pub and the property it sits on have an inherent historical value and should be preserved for future generations.
In 2007, the city of Alamogordo bought the building with Legislative funding. There was also an agreement with the previous owner with the understanding the building would be used to house the Alamogordo Museum of History.