From The Decatur Daily
by Deangelo McDaniel
PRICEVILLE — The town of Priceville is seeking authorization from a Morgan County circuit judge to borrow $9 million to construct a 66,000-square-foot recreation center near North Bethel Road and East Upper River Road.
A hearing on the matter will be held June 9 at 10 a.m. in the Morgan County Courthouse for any Priceville resident who wants to “show cause” why the town shouldn’t be allowed to borrow the money.
Mayor Melvin Duran and Birmingham attorneys handling the legal proceedings did not return telephone calls seeking comment.
Priceville officials started talking about the center in 2015, but on March 13 the council adopted a resolution announcing its plan to go to the bond market, according to court documents.
Town officials said in court filings that they determined the town’s economic base and “prosperity and welfare of its citizens will be advanced” with the project. They also expect retail, commercial and employment opportunities and “an increase of the town’s tax base and revenues.”
Morgan County Commission Chairman Ray Long said he was familiar with the project because the county donated 8.4 acres where construction is slated to take place.
“I think this is great for the area and would be a major tourist attraction for the county,” he said. “I don’t see any minuses to this plan.”
Decatur Mayor Tab Bowling talked about a project like this for the River City during his campaign. He proposed locating it in the annexed part of Limestone County near Interstate 565 and Alabama 20 because of the amount of traffic.
Bowling said Priceville’s plans have not changed his thoughts about what Decatur should do.
“We’re still talking about the feasibility of moving forward,” he said.
Court documents did not include specific plans for Priceville’s facility, but in February Duran said it would include four basketball courts that can be converted into eight volleyball courts, a walking track, one or two batting cages, a fitness center and a rehab center.
Priceville plans to sign a management agreement with Encore Rehab to operate a portion of the facility, according to legal filings.
Duran and council members Tommy Perry, Charles Black, Donald Livingston, Joe Lubisco and Jerry Welch also outlined plans to pay the debt. The town has about $34 million in taxable property, which means the council can legally borrow as much as $16.9 million, according to court documents. The new bonds will increase Priceville’s debt to about $11.9 million, court records show.
The center’s proposed site is near the new Priceville High where the Morgan County Board of Education invested almost $24 million. Superintendent Bill Hopkins Jr. supports the project and is looking at it as a possible home for the Morgan County basketball tournament.
“Any place that is centrally located in the county is a benefit for the school system,” he said. “This is right off Interstate 65 and should attract a lot of people to the county.”
The proceeding has been assigned to Circuit Judge Steven Haddock.