The Union Recorder

May 17, 2013

CSH board forms state property task force

Kyle Collins
The Union-Recorder

MILLEDGEVILLE — The Central State Hospital Local Redevelopment Authority (CSHLRA) introduced a “Central State Hospital Legislative Initiative” Wednesday.

The joint City of Milledgeville and CSHLRA strategy plans on delivering an actionable plan allowing faster campus state property access. Through a committee of key players led by Milledgeville Mayor Richard Bentley, the initiative aims to have a decision briefing prepared and presented directly to Gov. Nathan Deal by Aug. 15.

The authority needs the ability to expeditiously access properties, either by change in Georgia statute or administrative rule, allowing true privatization of CSH real estate, according to CSHLRA Vice Chair Dudley Rowe.

“What we have today is really not satisfactory,” Rowe said during Wednesday’s board meeting. “We have to have a process that speeds up and gives us what we need when we go to the marketplace to get commitments.”

Executive Director Mike Couch said the board wishes for help from the State Properties Commission (SPC) that regulates, mandates and leverages all Georgia property assets and buildings.

“This authority was established eight months ago by House Bill 815. As part of that statute when we briefed the governor and worked with the legislature, we told them we will do the work of an authority, but we need some help and relief from the State Properties Commission,” Couch said.

The bottom line is Central State’s 200-plus buildings aren’t market ready.

“We told Gov. Deal that we need to rework the way the state interacts with communities that are encumbered with properties that are drags on their tax rolls that can be put to better use by a public or private user,” the CSHLRA director said. “For us to be competitively market ready, I’ve got to act as a real estate broker and developer. I have to have buildings I can work with.”

The CSH Legislative Initiative task force includes Baldwin County Commissioner Sammy Hall, Johnny Grant, Community Engagement and Economic Development Director for Georgia College and CSHLRA board member, CSHLRA chair Quay Fuller, city attorney Jimmy Jordan, Rowe, CSHLRA board member Russ Walden, Couch and attorney David Waddell. Other influencers such as state Rep. Rusty Kidd, state Sen. Burt Jones, Troutman Sanders, Central Georgia Technical College President Dr. Ivan Allen, Maj. Gen. Peter Boylan (Ret.) and the SPC commissioner will assist the effort along with the Middle Georgia Regional Commission, Georgia Trust and the state Chamber of Commerce.

“We aren’t planning to do it all ourselves,” Rowe said. “There are a lot of people out there with contacts that could help us develop this.”

The CSHLRA officials think opportunity for state agency relocation to the campus exists. The Georgia Department of Corrections and the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities are two possible candidates, according to Rowe.

Other key issues for the legislative initiative include finding demolition dollars for correctional buildings, inserting the CSHLRA into a state budget line item and exploring if federal rules of economic development conveyance could apply to CSH properties.

Deal’s support is vital to the mission. Rowe said the governor has been open and patient.

“It’s time for us to go back to him with specifics,” he said.

If the properties can’t be accessed via administrative rule and require statute modification, documentation must be in Atlanta by Oct. 15 to be introduced into the 2014 legislative session.

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