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City board approves long-term lease of Civic Center space to school system

By Bill ShortFlag City Logo

The Millington Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted unanimously this week to lease a building at the Harvell Civic Center to the municipal school system.
Board members took the action Monday night during their regular monthly meeting on a motion offered by Alderman Thomas McGhee and seconded by Alderman Bethany Huffman.
At a March 24 special called meeting, the Millington School Board voted to renovate a stand-alone, two-story, 12,480-square-foot building at the Civic Center for use as the school system’s Central Administrative Office.
The system’s administrative staff is currently leasing a 1,000-square-foot space in the Millington Industrial Development Board building on Veterans Parkway. But a report submitted by David Hilsdon, owner of Hilsdon Engineering in Millington, noted that the “aggressive time schedule” set by the administration to meet its staffing goals will require a larger office space in the “near future.”
Before the city purchased the Civic Center from the First Baptist Church of Millington, the stand-alone building was used for church day care and nursery operations. It was most recently used by the YMCA.
At its March 10 meeting, the Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted to offer that building “free of charge” to the school system with a quitclaim deed.
But City Attorney Charles Perkins said Monday night that the building sits 3-to-5 feet from the walls of the Civic Center. He noted that the deed method would require subdividing the property, which he called a “long, onerous process” that would have to be approved by the Millington Municipal Planning Commission as well as the city board.
“Once we completed that,” he acknowledged, “we’d still have a non-conforming building because of setback issues. So, our recommendation is to enter into this lease.”
Perkins said the “primary term” of the lease is 40 years, which is required by Tennessee law. But he noted that it can automatically be renewed for four successive five-year periods, extending it a total of 60 years.
A section of the lease gives the school board the right to designate reserved parking spaces nearest to the building, as “agreed upon” by Dr. David Roper, superintendent of the school system, and Interim City Manager Chris Dorsey.
Perkins said the school board will be “obligated” to maintain the building with the same “standards” that it does for other school buildings in the city. And if the board decides to cease operating the building for “school administrative purposes,” it will revert to the city.
In response to a question by Alderman Mike Caruthers, Roper said he is “very pleased” with “this arrangement.”
“I will be presenting this lease agreement to the school board for its approval,” he said. “I don’t anticipate any issues with that, and I appreciate your willingness to work with us on this.”
Alderman Frankie Dakin noted that “access” to the Shelby County School Board currently requires a 30-minute drive from Millington. But next year, he said, the municipal school board will be located in a building “right next” to the high school.
“I think this is a great thing for the community,” he concluded, “and a great example of the kind of cooperation that we have with the school system.”

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