Decision on Diamondhead City Hall purchase on hold - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Decision on Diamondhead City Hall purchase on hold

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DIAMONDHEAD, MS (WLOX) -

It may be awhile before Diamondhead residents find out where their city hall will end up. Currently, it's located in the former Diamondhead Baptist Church.

As we reported on Tuesday, the court battle over the million dollar purchase of that building was delayed after two judges recused themselves from hearing the case because of potential conflicts of interest.

The search is on now to find a judge who can preside over the case. WLOX News found out what the controversy is all about.

The former Diamondhead Baptist Church became Diamondhead's City Hall in 2013 under a lease purchase agreement.

"We've always maintained that the lease was invalid," said Pete Kolf.

Kolf is Chairman of the Diamondhead Taxpayers Association, a citizen's watch-dog group objecting to the purchase of the building and the $1.2 million bond it will take to buy it.

"We're confident it's a valid agreement, and our city attorneys as well as our bond attorneys have worked very, very hard to facilitate this purchase and it is the best thing for the city right now," said Diamondhead Mayor Tommy Schafer.

Kolf said that should be decided by the people of Diamondhead.

"If the people vote yes then the issue is over. If they say no then the city's got to find another place to have their city hall, and it's as simple as that," explained Kolf.

"I've looked at every possible option in the city of Diamondhead that I could find. I've asked for options. No one has presented them. We put out a request for proposals. We got no responses, because there simply is no better option anybody has been able to identify," Schafer said.

"There are 400 and some odd houses that are up for sale in Diamondhead, and other cities that I've worked with have used residences as city hall for the administration," Kolf said.

Schafer said the church building allows for most city departments to be housed under one roof, and a one stop shop is what he'd like to create for residents and contractors.

"It would certainly be unfortunate if the city does not end up with that building," said Schafer.

Kolf said his group's attorney was prepared to defend their position. A new hearing date won't be set until a judge is found to hear the case.

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