LULA — Lula’s engineer could have a recommendation next week on which bidder his firm recommends to perform Phase 1 of the Lula Depot renovation project, as city leaders continue to work toward a clear title for the property.
Robert Simmons of Rindt McDuff Associates told city leaders Monday night they received three competitive bids for the work, ranging from just more than $156,000 to just more than $437,000.
Earlier in the city council work session, Lula Area Betterment Association President Mery Barbee delivered to Mayor Jim Grier an affidavit of her involvement with and knowledge of the depot and property.
Grier read the affidavit in full to those gathered.
The property originally was deeded to the Lula Area Business Association in 1977. That organization changed to the Lula Area Betterment Association in 1983, and it was that group that raised funds and oversaw construction of the depot, then maintained the building and grounds until it was transferred to the city in 2017 – some 24 years later.
Because the deed showing Lula Area Betterment Association as the owner apparently was not recorded in the Hall County Clerk of Court’s Office and cannot be located, the city has been faced with following a “quiet title” process to clear up any possible title issues that might arise.
Mayor Pro Tem Marvin Moore and other councilmen have asked that the city do everything in its power to resolve any lingering possible ownership issues with the property before significant public funds are invested there.
City Attorney Joey Homans said Lula is on the right track to accomplish that.
“We’ll have to begin going forward with the quiet title process, which is going to involve filing, running notice in the paper, notifying adjoining property owners to ensure the boundary lines are correct, and having a special master appointed by a superior court judge, and then have the special master review that work and make a recommendation and report to the court,” Homans told AccessWDUN at the conclusion of Monday night’s work session.
“The notices that are required by law and the procedure required by law, it is very difficult to conclude that process in less than four months,” Homans said. “That’s where we are, and we were awaiting the affidavit that was read tonight and now we’re ready to move on.”
Homans told the mayor and council that no entity has come forward during the years of discussion about the city obtaining the depot and grounds to assert any possible claim of ownership, and it is not likely one could make and prove that claim because of the years of use and maintenance by LABA, in both its forms.
“Everything we’ve seen, we do not anticipate any difficulty,” Homans said. “It’s just a matter of the process.”
A bid tabulation sheet for Phase 1 of the depot project, presented by Simmons at Monday night’s work session, shows that RR&B Associates, General Contractors of Riverdale submitted the apparent low bid at just more than $156,330.
Other bids received were from JOMA Commercial of Athens for $420,425, and from Chattahoochee Group of Clermont for $437,030, the tabulation sheet shows.
Phase 1 of the depot project includes demolition of some interior walls and other parts of the depot and subsequent renovations.
City Manager Dennis Bergin said the city is continuing to explore doing the demolition work with its employees because city leaders believe it can be accomplished for less than the $18,000 line item.
The work session was the third of three meetings of the Lula City Council that spanned about three hours Monday.