By Adam Pack
A heated discussion regarding the future of a building located at 313 Monroe Street South in Alderson took over a portion of last week’s Alderson City Council. Council heard an appeal from area residents regarding the property, which was slated for demolition at an earlier meeting, but some locals were concerned that a piece of valuable Alderson history would be destroyed with it.
Those locals were present at the most recent City Council meeting with their legal counsel, Lewisburg attorney Paul Detch.
Detch requested that Council authorize the Town of Alderson’s legal counsel, Grady Ford, to enter into negotiations with Detch on behalf of the Alderson family to draft a contract for the purchase of the property.
Detch spoke of his experience with the Lewisburg Foundation, and the work he and the foundation did to preserve the historic nature of Lewisburg while simultaneously bringing in a greater degree of economic prosperity.
The reception by Mayor Travis Copenhaver, however, was negative. Having heard Detch’s appeal, Copenhaver announced that he had, “offered no more of a solution than we started with a year a half ago.” The mayor further claimed that authorization had been granted to Detch in the past to meet with Ford, but no agreement between the two could be reached.
“We will not sell this property for $1, we have more than that invested in it… We’ve been dealing with this for 18 months and are no closer today than we were in June of 2020,” read Ford’s response.
Ford pointed out that the city does not need to work with the Alderson’s exclusively, as there may be grant money available for the city to repair the property. “There are other buildings which are dilapidated which have much more historical value and would be better targets for our resources,” he said. Ford further claimed that the Alderson’s plans were simply “hopes and dreams,” and that Detch “never made us an offer, nor was there one in the letter that was sent previously.”
In response, Detch claimed that “this is the first time that we’ve had the city put something on the table.” He further claimed that the city has “never counter offered, you’ve apparently never told Ford what you wanted to have on this thing… Either come in here ready to negotiate it in good faith, or don’t. Don’t just blame the lawyers.”
Copenhaver claimed that he’s gotten a response from Ford every time that he and Detch met in the past, and that an offer was never made by Detch or the Alderson’s. He claimed that “this process has been documented throughout, you can go back and look at the recording on Facebook, and you can see that once Joe paid what he paid to get the roof fixed, we stopped because we didn’t know what to do with it.”
Detch ended by saying that he had “argued in good faith on two occasions with Grady Ford and I have sent him one letter at the city’s request, and I don’t understand why we get stonewalled… I would hope that this town would have more respect for their history and architecture than has been shown here.”