Roanoke City Council unanimously voted Monday to spend $25,000 to potentially make a major improvement on Main Street.

The council agreed to purchase the property at 803 Main St., recognizable for its "Security Pest Control" sign, in an effort to address what has long been considered a nuisance property on the city's primary thoroughfare.

The building sits adjacent to city hall on the corner of Vaughn and Main streets and has been the target of multiple citizen complaints over the years. Previous iterations of the city council have attempted to address the issue without success, but Monday the city finally confirmed the transaction that will allow it to take action to clean up the property.

The building is valued at $45,000, but the city worked out a deal that would include the property owner donating $20,000 of that cost, leaving the city with a $25,000 bill to complete the purchase.

Once the transaction is complete, the city will decide its exact plans for the building's future. One of the options that will be discussed will be to have the building demolished, but those plans were not addressed at Monday's meeting.

Use of police property

Police Chief Jonathan Caldwell asked the council to consider adopting a resolution that would allow police officers the use of department property when working private, off-duty security jobs.

Caldwell said this is common practice among municipalities throughout the state, citing cities like Opelika, Auburn, Oxford and Anniston that have similar policies already in place. The most common use of this rule is for off-duty officers to work in uniform and drive patrol cars to private security jobs. An example Caldwell gave was if Walmart hires security to help with Black Friday shopping, then the officer would not be officially on duty with the department, but he would be present with the appearance that he was on duty.

Councilmember Tammi Holley balked at the proposal, saying the city should not foot the bill for fuel and wear and tear on vehicles and uniforms for an officer to receive personal gain.

Caldwell countered this type of policy allows the city to have what amounts to a police presence at potentially high-risk locations without the city having to pay for the officer's time.

Caldwell said, by law, he cannot implement the policy without the council's approval. Mayor Jill Hicks asked Caldwell to present the council with a sample resolution so they can examine it and decide if they want to move forward.

The issue will be revisited at a future council meeting.

Project CARE

The mayor and multiple council members voiced their gratitude to citizen volunteers, students and city employees who participated in the city-wide litter cleanup effort (called Project CARE) last week.

"It's amazing the difference in the city and how much better the city looks," Hicks said. "It truly was a team effort, and I don't think it could have been more successful."

In other action the council:

  • Re-appointed Regina Joiner to Roanoke City School Board. Joiner was nominated by Councilmember Tammi Holley, and her re-appointment passed with a 4-0 vote, with Councilmember Bronwyn Bishop abstaining.
  • Approved an expenditure of $27,178 to repair the loader at the county landfill. The loader will be repaired by Thompson Tractor Company in Oxford. The machine had already been transported to the repair site but needed council approval before the repairs could proceed.

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