In executive session on April 13, the City Council voted to purchase the former Central Bank building, located on 2nd St.
The mayor at the time, Doyle Weeks, asked council to consider his proposal to buy the property, and said he would like to move the Holden Police Department, as well as city hall offices and records, into the former bank building.
Weeks explained that the city would be receiving funds from the American Rescue Act in the amount of $411,000 and the city could use these funds to practically pay off the $300,000 price of the bank building.
Weeks went on to say that he and former Police Chief Trenton Neal and Assistant Chief Matt Carter had been working on getting bids from multiple banks, in the amount of $350,000.
He explained $300,000 was for the cost of the building, and $50,000 would be for the needed construction on the inside of the building.
Weeks suggested to council that the city make one lump sum payment to the lender when the Recovery Act funds arrive, then all that would be left to pay would be about $50,000 and the building would be nearly paid off.
Former Mayor Weeks said he would like to tear down the existing police station building and put in a parking lot at that location.
During discussion among council members, Councilman Jim McDaniel asked Weeks what would be done with the remainder of the Recovery Act funds.
Weeks explained he would suggest constructing a new 150x100x100 building that would house the city’s Street Department and the Fire Department.
He went on to say that the fire dept. is operating in a space that offers almost no room and they couldn’t even consider buying a new fire truck because they had no place to store it.
McDaniel questioned if the city needed a new fire truck and was told the current fire truck is always in need of repair and the department is continually spending money to keep it running.
Weeks continued with his thoughts and plans for the funds that are coming to Holden through the Recovery Act, saying the new fire dept./street dept. building would have three bays for storage of vehicles and offices would be located in the middle of the building.
He also noted the new building would be located near the current street barn.
With regard to the bank building, Weeks told council that it would take some time to refurbish the inside of the building to ensure the police safety measures are in place.
Former Council Member Liz Weeks asked if the city could still afford to go through with the plan if the Recovery Act funds did not come through for some reason.
April 13 executive session notes do not show that her inquiry was addressed or answered.
Councilman Ray Briscoe said the Recovery Act funds could be used by the Board of Public Works (BPW).
Former Mayor Weeks said that the BPW has access to means and funds that the city does not.
Weeks explained there are three vaults inside the former Central Bank building, which would provide plenty of secure storage.
He added he would like to get the security phones and construction of the inmate holding areas done first.
He went on to say that with the purchase of the new building, the probation and parole dept. would now have their own dedicated office.
He also shared that in his plan, the Missouri State Highway Patrol could have their own substation when they responded to the Holden area.
Council discussed accepting the loan bid obtained from Central Bank for the purchase of the property.
After a motion to accept the bid from Central Bank, followed by a second to the motion, Weeks asked for a roll call vote, to which each council member voted in the affirmative.
He also said he would keep everyone informed as to further developments on the purchase of the former bank building.
On June 22, the Image made a formal request to city hall that we be informed when the bank deal closed, so as to be able to report to Holden citizens, so they would know what was happening and so that they are informed and aware of the actions of their city government.
No communication was ever received from the city to the Image, and it was brought to light by a third party that the closing of the deal to purchase the building occurred on July 31, 2021.
Since this April meeting occurred, the Image has learned and reported on the fact that Recovery Act funds cannot be used for the purpose of buying real estate.
There are specific stipulations that these funds are subject to.
The Image reached out to current Mayor Liz Weeks and asked where the money would come from to purchase the building, since Recovery Act funds couldn’t be used.
She responded by saying, “When the purchase was discussed, we were hopeful that the Recovery Act funds could contribute to paying off the lease purchase for the former bank building. “The council has known of the police department’s deteriorating building and the lack of proper storage facilities for confidential documents and evidence, for years. “We knew, as a council, that the city was going to have to invest in repairing, purchasing or building a new work space for the police department.”
The Mayor’s statement went on to talk about the city’s buildings being neglected for years, or current city departments have simply outgrown their respective spaces.
Mayor Weeks talked about the council being aware that they would have to act to address the issue. “The city council has been planning and preparing for such improvements,” she said. “After discussion, the council approved financing the purchase, knowing there were sufficient funds in the budget to cover, in case the Recovery Act funding wasn’t available.”
The Image asked Mayor Weeks how there could be an extra $300,000 in the budget, and to report specifically, what budget line item it was under.
After repeated inquiries asking for the information on the budget, the mayor declined to respond to our questions.
Citizens are left to wonder where the $300,000 is coming from and how the purchase of the former bank building will affect their pocketbooks.
See next week’s Image for additional coverage.