Barwick torn on recent land transactions - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Barwick torn on recent land transactions

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Some people in a small south Georgia town are calling for the mayor's job over a land deal.

Critics claim Barwick Mayor Ned Simmons and City Councilman I.J. McCann illegally transferred ownership of the city's community house to the chamber of commerce, And they're starting a recall petition.

Supporters of the deal say it's good for the city, and it was properly approved by the city council.

Built in the late 1930's, Barwick's community house has been a hot spot for parties, meetings, other community events.

And while the building is on city property, city officials say the house has been kept up by the chamber of commerce for the last 30 years.

"We're very small and it's just not too pleasant to have such dissension as we have. And we hope that everybody can come to some disposition on it," said Former Mayor Ward Manley.

In order to acquire the land they needed to build a new ball park, city officials swapped the 3.5 acres of land the community house is on with a 1.6 acre parcel owned by the chamber of commerce.

Some community members, like Manley are ok with the decision, but others say it's a bad deal.

"I have always been in favor of the chamber keeping this up because I feel like when the chamber gives it up, it's going to go to the way of the school building over there across the street."

"The Mayor, a council member, and a president of a chamber of commerce got together privately. Done the dealings behind closed doors and that's against the law. And that is why I am against it," said Recall Supporter Anthony Scott Mccammon.

Fran Beck applied for a recall this week of Mayor Ned Simmons and City Councilman I.J. McCann. Mccammon supports that recall effort.

"You can't sell something privately the way it was done. It should have been put up for bids, took bids on it. If they wanted to get rid of it, it could have helped the town out by doing that."

The city council approved the deal back in October, but the recall application claims the city land is worth $87,000 and the chamber land is only worth $12,600.

"I have always thought that if that piece of property is the piece of property that the city needs and no other piece of property will fit, than that makes it tremendously more valuable," said Manley.

Beck delivered the petition paperwork to Barwick's superintendent of elections and city clerk this week.