The historic Scott County Jail and Jailer’s House has sparked some overtures on if they are available for some kind of use.
“I don’t want to have a lengthy conversation tonight about it, but I have been approached by three different groups in regards to the old jail property on Water Street,” Judge-Executive Joe Pat Covington said at last Thursday’s Scott County Fiscal Court meeting.
The properties were used from 1892 until 1990, and the Scott County Arts & Cultural Center has been the latest occupant of the property.
One of the inquiries has come from Scott County Tourism, Covington said, which has proposed a lease for a year at $1 to set up a tourism satellite center Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
“I have been approached by two other groups that have said they have interest in purchasing the old jail,” he said. “I want to lay it out for the court and how we want to proceed.”
Magistrate Kelly Corman asked if the county has used any part of that property. Covington said it has been used sparsely.
“The Tourism proposal includes the Arts & Cultural Center if they want to have a gallery exhibit or something like that,” Covington said. “The Tourism office feels a downtown site would be beneficial.”
Corman said his concern would be what is the liability to the county to maintain the property.
“I would like to go on record for deed restrictions on its usage after sale, if that is possible and the route we take,” Covington said. “I’d like to preserve it.”
“You don’t want to see it torn down and apartments be put there,” said Magistrate David Livingston.
The other part of the negotiating is that is on the state historical registrary, Covington said. He had reached out to state officials on what the parameters are, he said Monday morning.
Magistrate Alvin Lyons asked if bids could be taken and refused if the county did not like them.
Livingston wondered if there was a possibility for a private-public partnership to restore and maintain the building as a tourist attraction and economic development, for example, a small bourbon distillery.
“One of the groups that has approached me earlier had that in mind,” Covington said.
Lyons said a distillery would not be seen as favorable by he or his constituents.
“If it was privately owned, that is one thing. But my constituents would not like a distillery on government property,” he said.
Magistrate Chad Wallace believes that it is best for older buildings to be in the hands of private entities.
“That’s a good point. They are going to put something in that is profitable; we aren’t necessarily going to do that,” Corman said.
Covington said he would reach out to the state and federal leaders to see what the county can do, and County Attorney Rand Marshall said that could set up the deal restrictions. In the meantime, Covington said they could talk with the tourism officials further about the lease and present it at the next meeting.
Steve McClain can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.