by Amelia Holliday—Staff Reporter
HAZARD — With layoffs now not only coming from private sector coal companies but from county agencies, many Perry Countians consider it counterintuitive for organizations depending on government funding to even consider any kind of big spending in the near future. However, at the monthly board meeting for the Kentucky River Area Development District (KRADD) last week that was exactly what appeared was being planned for the group.
KRADD Executive Director Mike Miller addressed the board before the meeting was adjourned on Wednesday, bringing to vote a decision to begin looking at the Dawhare building on High Street in Hazard as a prospect for the organization to purchase and move into.
Miller said the building KRADD currently occupies, which is on Perry County Park Road next to the Perry County 4-H Extension Office, is not only overcrowded but unstable as it is sinking.
“There’s about an inch to two inch gap between the floor and the wall in some places,” Peggy Roll, human services director at KRADD, said before the vote was taken.
Miller said the organization has been looking into either renovating or relocating for around two years, however, did not make any moves in regards to the decision until the owners of the Dawhare building expressed interest in selling. And while an asking price of $750,000 may seem high in such tough economic times, Miller said for a building of around 38,000 square feet it was quite a steal.
“Here’s my thinking on it. At what their asking price is, that’s roughly $18-$19 a square foot. Nineteen dollars a square foot isn’t a whole lot of money when you look at it square-footage-wise,” he said after the meeting.
Miller added that though there may be negatives to the building found after the inspection, a major positive would be the investment opportunity the space could allow for.
“The beautiful part about the Dawhare building is that there would be some 15,000-18,000 square feet left after we did what we needed to do. Eventually, that space could be rented to other people,” he said.
The board approved the motion to have an inspector conduct an inspection of the Dawhare building, with one dissenting vote coming from Perry County Judge-Executive Denny Ray Noble.
“They can get grants to renovate the building they’re in. All they’d need to do is do a longer lease with the county, which we would do. I just think it’s a bad idea, that’s why I voted against it,” Noble said.
The building KRADD currently occupies is owned by Perry County. Noble said there are no grants available for buying new buildings for groups like KRADD, though some funds are available for renovations to existing buildings.
“That’s the reason why I said why don’t you use the building you’ve got,” he added. “If they go out of the building, if they do, the board seems like they’re going to do that from what I saw … but they’re not looking at who’s going to pay for it.”
Miller said KRADD is prepared financially to upgrade their building in some way, and said he realizes times are tough for grants and funding options.
“We’ve got some money that we can use. The ADD has money that they’ve saved over the years,” Miller said.
Miller added that even with the vote nothing has been set in stone. This is just the very first step for KRADD in the direction of upgrading its office space in some form or fashion.
“What we’re trying to do is put together some options for the board to consider. What we do is completely up to the board,” Miller said. “I’m just trying to give them more than one option with different ways the options could play out.”