Pilcher: Parole office lease is already signed

Published 12:00 am Sunday, February 29, 2004

Mayor James Perkins Jr. would like to discuss the relocation of the state’s parole and probation office to old town. However, it might be too late.

The property is owned by John Pilcher’s family. Pilcher, a local attorney, noted that the area is properly zoned for offices. &uot;Agreements have been signed,&uot; he said. &uot;My family has a lease with the State of Alabama on that property.&uot;

The move is scheduled to occur in early March.

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Councilwoman Jean Martin, who represents the ward the office will relocate to, said she wished the state would have contacted the city before signing any agreement. &uot;I would have liked the state to have told us it needed to move its office and asked if we would suggest something,&uot; she said. &uot;They didn’t do that. We’re trying so hard to hold onto our historic districts. To keep it vital, you’ve got to have young families who care.&uot;

Martin approached Perkins about the move when she first discovered it on Wednesday. Perkins said he told her to consider offering the old E-911 building, located at 12 Franklin St., as an alternative. &uot;Any city involvement would be limited,&uot; Perkins said. &uot;Based on what I know, it’s been about zoning issues. Based on what I know, it’s properly zoned. I don’t know how much the Wilson building (located at 12 Franklin St.) would cost, but we could make it feasible.&uot;

Pilcher said he wasn’t sure what the state would have to do to get out of its agreement. &uot;I’m not aware of any reason to be upset,&uot; he said. &uot;The parolees are in our community. They have jobs and they’re productive. These folks are in our county and our city. They shop in our stores and ride up and down our streets. They go to our churches.&uot;

Some residents, however, are upset. City Attorney Jimmy Nunn began receiving complaints Wednesday night. &uot;They say no one knew the move would occur,&uot; he said. &uot;They asked if the city knew it would happen. They want to know what action can occur to prohibit the move.&uot;

Nunn added that he didn’t think any action could occur based on city zoning that would halt the move. &uot;The city isn’t planning any legal action,&uot; he said.

Businesses located next to the parole office’s current location favor the move to a certain extent. &uot;We’ve never had any trouble,&uot; said Carl Seele, owner of Seele’s Vacuum Cleaner. &uot;We have never had any problems at all. The only problem is not enough parking.&uot;

Carl Bowline, owner of Madden & Associates, whose office also sits next to the parole office, agreed. &uot;We’re looking for them to move to clear up parking,&uot; he said. &uot;They’re not going to come out here and rob anyone out front of the probation office. We’ve been here two years and never had a problem with crime.&uot;

Whether or not the office’s current neighbors have had issues, Martin isn’t comfortable with the parolees and probationers so near to the families in her ward.