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City will not have lease alternative to offer Ergon

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The Roswell City Council will not have the option of offering a long-term lease for land at the Roswell Air Center to Ergon Asphalt and Emulsions Inc. when the council meets next week.

City Manager Joe Neeb reported to Finance Committee members Thursday morning he had no lease for them to consider sending to the full council.

“I’m here to report that I was unable to get agreed-upon terms for that long-term lease. The company did request that the city continue the consideration of the sale of the land for them. They believe that that is the most appropriate for their business needs,” Neeb said.

The company approached the city three years ago about selling the 13.4 acres of land at the Air Center it leases from the city at $1,030 a month. The lease will expire in 2028.

Ergon Asphalt has said it wants to expand its Roswell operations with about $2 million in improvements. The expansion could add one or two more employees to their staff of six.

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The proposed $340,000 sale will be on the council’s Nov. 12 agenda along with a related proposal regarding rail spur maintenance. In its October meeting, the council voted 6-4 to postpone a decision on selling the land in favor of also talking with the company about a lease of 15 years or more.

That decision came after a campaign against the sale by local business people expressing concern about the sale of Air Center land.

Because the city had a public hearing on the proposed sale at its October meeting, another hearing will not need to be scheduled.

City Councilor Jacob Roebuck asked Neeb if he believed the negotiations were made in good faith from both sides. Neeb answered he believed that was the case.

“I just want to be sure that’s clear that it was a good-faith process and there wasn’t any sort of political manipulation to make the negotiations fail,” Roebuck said.

Neeb said the conversations on the lease were between himself and Ergon Vice President Drew Brooks.

“In my mind it was all on the up-and-up. It became very important to the business to have very definitive answers to this question, and I think that’s where they came about the property sale they believe works better for their purpose,” Neeb said.

“There are certain directives from the City Council that were not able to give up as much within the negotiations. Both parties I would say did their due diligence in order to go through that,” Neeb said.

The only other action item on the committee’s agenda was a resolution containing budget amendments for fiscal year 2021. The council voted 3-0 to place that resolution on the full council’s consent agenda. Councilor Juan Oropesa was absent.

City/RISD reporter Juno Ogle can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or reporter04@rdrnews.com.