published Wednesday, June 13th, 2012

Chattanooga, CHA swap land without school board

After days of discussing a three-way land swap involving city of Chattanooga, Chattanooga Housing Authority and the school board property, the city counsel and CHA have decided to move forward alone.

Chattanooga City Council voted to trade its Dogwood Manor Apartments and four acres of land off Shallowford Road to the Chattanooga Housing Authority, which already manages Dogwood, in a Tuesday meeting in exchange for the former Poss Homes site. Dogwood has been appraised at $1.7 million, but the city owes $2.4 million on it from upgrades made in 2001-02, according to Dan Thornton, head of the city's General Services Administration.

It remains to be seen if the city and CHA will now trade the Poss Homes site to the school board for land at East Brainerd Elementary, as has been previously discussed.

But councilmen said that they're pleased with the deal, even if the school board doesn't make them an offer.

"The big idea was to get Dogwood off our hands. ... [CHA's] major stake was getting Dogwood. They're not really going home and crying," Councilman Andrae McGary said after the meeting.

Councilwoman Carol Berz introduced the alternative plan, which was supported by all except Councilman Peter Murphy. Council members Manny Rico and Sally Robinson were absent for the vote.

"I think it's poor form for us to talk about something the school board is going to do," Berz said, "We can't talk about plans that aren't in our purview."

She and McGary said that they can't speculate on whether the school board will come to the table in the deal because they haven't discussed it much at their own meetings and haven't reached out to the council.

School board Chairman Mike Evatt has previously released in a memo that the board would vote on the issue in its June 21 meeting.

Staff writer Ansley Haman contributed to this report.

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