WILLIAMSON – At a regular meeting of the Mingo County Commission held Wednesday morning, commissioners approved a motion to respond formally to a sublease proposal and license concerning the future of Laurel Lake.
Commissioner John Mark Hubbard opened the discussion stating, “Item number 12 on our agenda is the approval of a sublease proposal and lease for Laurel Lake. This is something that we have been looking at for a while. We are working on it with the state…I have been on the phone with the folks in Charleston concerning the fact that budget restraints at the state level they had proposed to shut down part of the property at Laurel Lake…”
Commissioner Greg “Hootie” Smith spoke next stating, “We had shared with them our vision and our idea of how to keep that portion of Laurel Lake operating and enhance it so it could become self-sufficient…”
At a previous commission meeting, commissioners had discussed using previously acquired seed-money to use the Laurel Lake location as a 4-h camp. “The idea was to invest in this portion of Laurel Lake which has shelters in place, playground equipment, which has a fairly new pool that is in good condition and to use this place to generate funds, not make a profit but come close to breaking even. “
Smith continued, discussing the vision of Mark Whitt to create a 4-H camp in Mingo County. Currently, Mingo County 4H groups as well as other area groups go to Cabell County for the annual 4-H camp.
“They were very impressed with our proposal… We individually made a proposal to them that we would like to see a three year phase in opportunity to get this project off the ground…” Smith stated.
Smith continued, discussing that the property where the pool and shelters are located is currently under a 99 year lease with Cotiga. Smith explained that 44 years are left on the Cotiga lease. “The other portion where the tennis courts, basketball courts, residence and office are state property,” Smith explained. “We are dealing with two separate issues,” Smith continued.
“The proposal with regards to the Cotiga property would be a sublease with 50 thousand dollars a year for three years. Is what we proposed and it would have to have the blessing of Cotiga, the land owner. We have been in constant contact with Cotiga and their local representative wants to see the benefit to Mingo County. The part in regards to the residence and stuff would be separate…”
Smith explained that a proposal had been made in regard to the property. “It is a sublease agreement in regards to the Cotiga property. They do not want to do it in three separate fiscal years; they want to do one lump sum. The proposal was not for the $150,000 that we had requested. It was for $100,000. Then they set a license agreement to allow us to operate the state property also. There are some legal issues that need to be addressed and sent back to them. “
Smith continued stating, “One of the reasons we put it on the agenda is that if we are going to accept or make a counter offer it needs to be at a meeting where we have a discussion about it and make a decision as a commission to send back a formal proposal…”
Financial issues are also involved in furthering this project. “The main issue other than legal issues will be the financial issue. What amount of money the commission would be willing to accept?”
Members from the Laurel Lake Foundation as well as Mark Whitt were in attendance at the commission meeting and contributed to the discussion.
Following the discussion, Smith made a motion that the commission respond to the proposal. “Mr. President, I make a motion that we respond and formally express our desire to sublease the Cotiga property and enter into the license agreement in regard to the state property but for the consideration of the $150,000 as was originally requested with the additional points being changed with the legal issues that affect the commission and Cotiga.”
The motion was seconded by Commissioner Diann Hannah and approved unanimously.
(Courtney Pigman is a news reporter for the Williamson Daily News. She can be contacted at [email protected], or at 304-235-4242 ext. 2279.)