Concerns mount in Dresden – NWTN Today

Aerial view of the south side of the Court Square.
Photo credit: Nicholas Oliver

Floor plan of the municipal complex of Dresden

By News Reporter Shannon Taylor

Property owners have expressed concern about statements made recently by the Mayor of the City of Dresden, Jeff Washburn. At the last meeting, the floor plans were discussed regarding the construction of the new municipal complex and some questions were raised regarding the plans as well as questions regarding the landowners in the square.

The way the plans are currently working the new wider sidewalk will cover part of the owner’s property and if the owners decide they don’t want that sidewalk they could do it and build their building to the edge of their property . According to Washburn, homeowners may have the option to opt in to the new sidewalk plans. Alderman Gwin Anderson said that if the owners decide to build their properties right to the edge, “visually it’s not going to look good, and I’d love to see them play with us”.

A problem the Municipal Complex also faces is that Tony Winstead owns an area behind City Hall. Washburn said Winstead told him he had drawn up plans for the use of this area and that the use would be to create green space. “We would struggle to use it for traffic or a kiosk.”

Washburn said he spoke with Dickie Hutcherson who he said was considering selling his property to the city. Washburn also said he spoke with Keely Wilson about his property and she was “willing to work with the city.” Washburn said Wilson would give the property to the city or sell it but pay its demolition costs.

Washburn, after being questioned by Aldermen Kenneth Moore and Sandra Klutts at an earlier meeting, said Wilson “was mailed a deed to sign.” City attorney Beau Pemberton prepared the deed. The blank deed was for Wilson to surrender his property to the city. Washburn had also stated that all of the landowners in the place agreed to share the demolition costs and that Tony Winstead had in fact physically signed a demolition request.

Washburn said: ‘I spoke to the District Attorney General and he was planning to also speak to Miss Wilson and Hutcherson and as far as I know he did. We did not have a commitment from Hutcherson to give the property to the city of Dresden. He is offered to negotiate a purchase price which would mean that he will bear the demolition costs. Washburn said Wilson received a copy of the deed. “I think she may have also received a copy of the cost of her share of the demolition.”

Moore asked at this meeting if the owners had sent anything deeding their properties or if Pemberton and Washburn had simply taken it upon themselves to send deeds. Moore further stated that he questioned the issue because people did not understand what was going on.

Klutts further asked at that same meeting if the city had received any signatures from property owners agreeing to the demolition, as they feared what would happen if someone decided not to agree to the demolition.

Washburn said, “Well, every single one of them was here. I don’t know if any of them signed the demolition request forms, but they all agreed. He claimed to have received verbal agreements stating, “Everyone knew what was going on and was on board.”

Winstead told the press he never signed anything. “In order to rebuild, I would have to dig again what they filled in there because they buried debris on the site where the basement was.”

Winstead also sent emails to Washburn and Jennifer Branscum, saying: “When you sent your letter a few weeks ago for everyone to sign releasing the town of responsibility and giving permission to enter our property to remove the debris, I deliberately refrained from signing.”

Winstead went on to say that he felt the letter was too “open”. Winstead said he later drove past his apartment building and “several thousand dollars worth of property I intended to remove appears to be either buried under the ruble or missing.” Winstead also said he had a contractor ready to demolish the building and transport the debris affordably.

In another email, Winstead said he was upset that deconstruction had begun without proper planning and consent. “We were well prepared and able to handle our situation in a timely manner if left to our own resources.” He said doing the demolition as a group added cost and personal agony to his situation. “We lost thousands of dollars worth of property due to the illegal entry and destruction of our building.” Winstead was unable to locate the items he planned to remove. Winstead said what was done was both morally and legally wrong.

Winstead said when he saw the demolition taking place and sent the emails, the demolition was stopped, but everything he wanted out of his building was taken away or destroyed. When Branscum asked if they could go ahead and continue the demolition, he said, “Yeah, I guess so, the damage is done now.” Winstead didn’t see this as signing anything and “certainly didn’t sign anything giving them permission to start”.

When the press spoke to Wilson, she said she had never received anything from the city other than the blank deed she received a few weeks ago. She also said she hadn’t received anything from the city regarding the demolition. She said she drafted a letter to Washburn and all city councilors to clarify any confusion or misinformation regarding her position on her property.

Anderson actually told Wilson in a previous meeting, “We’re helping you out, and that’s how it’s going to be – the best way you’re going to come out. Now if you don’t want to do that, we’ll try to carve your building and then give you a time to do that depending on what you want to do. Council then voted unanimously to approve the demolition costs of $129,472.00.

Currently, Winstead and Wilson are unhappy with the way the city has handled things regarding demolition, questions about their property, or being contacted with questions regarding anything related to those matters.

Reports were received that a contractor from a non-profit organization had offered to demolish and haul the debris from the south side of Court Square free of charge during a meeting shortly after the tornado hit Dresden in 2021 Those present at these meetings, according to reports, were Washburn, the long-term recovery group and other local leaders. These are the same meetings that took place between community leaders and organizations that received monetary donations and were closed to the presence of the press.

La Presse was able to speak with the ASBL, which wishes to remain anonymous for the moment, on this subject. The association confirmed that there had been a meeting with the long-term recovery group and other local leaders very early on. The nonprofit said it has partner organizations that help with things like demolition and debris hauling. The non-profit partner organization said that if there was enough to demolish in Dresden, they could come and do it for free. The association confirmed that the information was relayed at the meeting and said it was closed. They were specifically told, “We don’t need your help. As for the nonprofit, that was the end of the conversation.

Washburn was asked if he was aware that work could be done for free and he said the non-profit organization had never “communicated directly with me as mayor or through official city channels. of Dresden regarding any demolition or clean up work and relating specifically to the south side of the square I will say this, if this consultancy firm had provided any information on how the city of Dresden could have the side demolished and cleaned up south of the square at no cost, the city of Dresden would certainly have welcomed his proposal to spare taxpayers the cost of demolition and cleanup.

Branscum said she was unaware of this.

Weakley County Mayor Jake Bynum responded by saying, “I don’t remember that conversation. All of the nonprofits we have interacted with have always told us that we are happy to work with any nonprofit that provides any type of service, but that we want to do it in a very systematic way to ensure that the data subjects were treated. fairly. It should have gone through the right channels.

Aldermen Lindal Dilday, Ralph Cobb, Willie Parker and Klutts said they were never told a partner non-profit organization had come forward early to carry out the demolition free of charge. Klutts further stated that she would look into the matter.

The owners were supposed to have received receipts for the cost of $129,472.00 to be paid based on the square footage of their land. Regarding a partner nonprofit’s attempt to do the demolition for free, Wilson said, “I hope it’s not. I would be concerned if this offer were made and not followed.

This is a developing story.

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