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Country club purchase on hold

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The clubhouse at Birchwood Country Club on Thursday in Nashville.

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BY WILLIAM F. WEST
Staff Writer

Saturday, February 16, 2019

NASHVILLE — The town’s interim manager said Nashville’s proposal to buy Birchwood Country Club remains on the table, but he said he hasn’t heard anything directly back from the club’s leadership.

Leonard Barefoot on Tuesday told the Telegram he spoke over the phone on Monday with Joe Hester, an attorney in Rocky Mount who has been doubling as the club’s acting president. Barefoot said his understanding was a meeting of the club’s leadership was going to be held on Monday evening.

Attempts to reach Hester for this story have been unsuccessful.

The town council held a special meeting Jan. 24 to seek public feedback about the local government’s proposal to potentially acquire the site, which is located southeast of downtown. The turnout for the meeting was so large numerous people had to stand in the hallway, but speakers pro and con got to address the council.

Barefoot at the Jan. 24 meeting said Birchwood’s board of directors is seeking proposals to purchase the club’s assets.

He told the gathering his information was the club’s board considered numerous proposals before settling on a Jan. 14 date to make a consideration. He told the gathering after the club’s board met at that time, he was advised the deadline to submit proposals was reset to Jan. 28.

Barefoot on Tuesday told the Telegram, “They've tried get their membership together to look at proposals.”

“We submitted a proposal — and I think some other folks submitted (proposals). So, now, the ball is in their court,” he said.

He declined to show the Telegram specifics of the town’s proposal to purchase the club, but he said the town is proposing to acquire the clubhouse, the golfing greens and the swimming pool.

"Our belief is that it would really be an asset to the town to have it," he said.

A list of questions were emailed Wednesday to Hester included whether the sale of the club would include the buildings or the grounds or both. 

Also asked was if the club could provide the asking price and if the club is considering offers from others and if so, how many and whom. They also included when the club would like to have the sale finalized. 

Birchwood dates back to the start of the 1960s.

In a story published in July, Hester said no transaction had been finalized and he wouldn’t confirm or deny whether the club was being sold.

“We’re in the process of trying to resolve everything and it will take some time before things work themselves out,” he was quoted as saying at the time.

Most of the comments at the Jan. 24 town council special meeting were supportive of Nashville’s government.

Nashville Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources Director Marguerite Bishop at the meeting said if the town council votes to purchase the property, the town is going to apply for a state Parks and Recreation Trust Fund grant to help renovate the clubhouse and the club’s pool.

Bishop also said the town is going to begin work on developing a master plan.

She said the town is eligible for up to $500,000 for such renovations and can use the purchase price as a local match, with the completion of a waiver.

At the start of Jan. 24 meeting, Mayor Donald Street, who lives in the Birchwood area, recused himself from presiding and participating in any discussion, citing a potential conflict of interest. Street said he recused himself because he’s a member of the club.

So the council voted to give Mayor Pro Tem Charles Taylor the gavel.

During the public input phase of the meeting, one of the speakers questioned Taylor, who said he proudly lives in the Birchwood area, about whether his residency would pose a conflict of interest. Taylor said no and Barefoot backed him up.

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