Dirt may turn in early ’14 for $10 million rec center

September 28, 2013

County Judge Darrell Cockerham said Wednesday that he expects dirt to finally turn for the $10 million recreation center shortly after the first of the year.

Though approved by voters last November, the project has seen delays due to the legalities involved in working out agreements between four entities. Those entities are the Granbury Independent School District, Hood County government, the YMCA of Hood County and bond attorneys.

The land for the rec center is near Acton Middle School and is currently owned by the school district.

It is the county that will be building the rec center, and county taxpayers who will be paying for it. County commissioners will be contracting with the YMCA of Hood County to staff the facility and handle its day-to-day operations.

The first issue that had to be addressed after voters gave their approval was how the school district would transfer ownership of the land to the county.

“When this thing was passed, the school said, ‘We’re going to give the county the land so we can build a natatorium and have (swim) meets over there,’” said Cockerham. “Then their attorney said, ‘No, you can’t give it to them, you have to sell it to them.’ So we had to go through that process.”

Precinct 4 Commissioner Steve Berry said that the county is going to get around that legal issue by purchasing the property from the school district. The school district will pay the county back over a period of years.

In essence, the land will still be donated to the county, but the upfront purchase and subsequent payback will ensure that the school district is complying with the law.

Cockerham said that City Attorney Lori Kaspar wrote some modifications to the contractual agreements “over the weekend,” and those modifications are being sent to the school district for approval.

The modifications recommended by the county attorney were discussed in closed session at Tuesday’s regular meeting of the Commissioners Court.

“I’m just really disgusted at not being able to get this done, and I know the school (district) is disgusted at not being able to get this done,” Cockerham said. “But there are four lawyers – four groups of people. And when two of them are satisfied, maybe even three, then the other says, ‘No.’

“But I think we’ve got it worked out now, and we’re moving this forward.”

Cockerham said that if the school board agrees to Kaspar’s modifications, then the county will sell the bonds and, hopefully, begin construction in the first quarter of 2014.

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